Although many of President Obama’s cabinet nominations are controversial, there’s one that many seem to agree is a great pick – the new Secretary of the Interior.
Sally Jewell is CEO of outdoor gear manufacturer REI, and will take over for outgoing secretary, Ken Salazar.
"Sally Jewell has the mind of an engineer, the heart of an environmentalist and the know-how of a businesswoman. It’s not surprising President Obama would turn to such a talented woman to balance the responsible use of America’s public lands, the protection of these resources and the wildlife that depend on them," says Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke.
What DOI Does
Besides setting aside land to be permanently protected, the Department of Interior (DOI) is integral to US energy policy, regulating energy development on federal lands and waters.
Under Salazar, DOI navigated offshore drilling regs after the BP oil spill and has been strongly criticized by the environmental community for opening vast coal beds in Wyoming and allowing oil drilling in the Arctic.
While allowing unprecedented amounts of oil and gas drilling on public lands, he also opened Solar Energy Zones and offshore wind zones under the Smart from the Start program. Republicans have criticized the agency for not opening enough land to oil and drilling, even as it moved on more offshore oil exploration off the east coast.
DOI is responsible for developing regulations for natural gas fracking on public lands.
Environmental advocates are looking to Jewell’s leadership to preserve more land, stop oil drilling in the Arctic and protect public lands from natural gas fracking.
About Sally Jewell
Before taking over the reins at REI in 2005, a company known for environmental leadership, Jewell first served as COO and before that as a member of the board. She also spent 20 years in the banking industry and began her career as an engineer at Mobil Oil.
"Sally has helped turn a stalling outdoor retailer into one of America’s most successful and environmentally conscious companies," said President Obama (REI brings in $2 billion a year). "She is an expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future."
He also lauded her for grasp of the "link between conservation and good jobs," and for her understanding that there’s "no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress, that in fact those two things need to go hand in hand."
Jewell received the National Audubon Society’s prestigious Rachel Carson Award in 2009 for her leadership and dedication to conservation.