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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

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The CEO of REI, the prominent outdoor clothing and gear retail company, has been nominated for Secretary of the Interior by President Obama. Sally Jewell's previous career experience is in the banking and oil industries. If confirmed, Jewell will be the first Secretary not from the political sphere in years.

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

"She brings a fresh perspective and new ideas," Grist explained. "She's a problem-solver by nature. 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 kayaker. During her time at REI, the outdoor retailer has doubled its sales, and in 2011, it launched 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. Its agencies are responsible for overseeing oil, gas and mining industries that sometimes pollute these lands, as well as for managing the lands for their wildlife and recreation values. Grist commended Jewell for having the right mix of experience.

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

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

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NV