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Interior Department to Try On Non-Politico Secretary

PHOTO: Sally Jewell, the current CEO of Seattle-based outdoor retailer REI, is President Obama's new nominee for Secretary of the Interior. Courtesy of REI, Inc.
PHOTO: Sally Jewell, the current CEO of Seattle-based outdoor retailer REI, is President Obama's new nominee for Secretary of the Interior. Courtesy of REI, Inc.
February 11, 2013

PORTLAND, Maine - The head of REI, the prominent outdoor clothing and gear retail company, has been nominated for Secretary of the Interior. If confirmed, CEO Sally Jewell will be the first Secretary not from the political sphere in years. She's had previous career experience as a banker, and in the oil industry.

REI, headquartered in Kent, Washington, between Seattle and Tacoma, is a member of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, where executive director Joanna Grist said Jewell knows how to balance sustainability and profitability.

"She brings a fresh perspective and new ideas; she's a problem-solver by nature," according to Grist. "Having the added perspective of a business leader is going to be, I hope, very helpful in forging partnerships through the D.C. politics."

Jewell is a hiker and a kayaker. During her time at REI, the outdoor retailer has doubled its sales, and in 2011, it began an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and waste sent to landfills.

The Interior Department is steward to hundreds of millions of acres of public lands, while also home to agencies responsible for overseeing oil, gas and mining industries that sometimes pollute public land.

Grist thinks Jewell brings the right mix of experience.

"She was a key stakeholder in discussions about 'America's Great Outdoors' initiative: that was a community-driven agenda about conservation and outdoor recreation," said Grist. "And so, she's been active on these issues on the federal level in the past and so, we're very encouraged and pleased to have her in this role."

Outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has predicted that Jewell will have an easy time being confirmed by the Senate.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - ME