Politics

Obama picks environmentalist CEO for Interior Secretary job

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama has picked the CEO of a recreation and retail business to manage the nation’s hugely valuable array of parks, lands, and forests.

He’s expected to announce at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday that his nominee for Interior Secretary is Sally Jewell, the CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc., a $2 billion per year company that make its money by selling camping and hiking gear.

Her company’s interest in promoting recreational use of federal land clashes with the interest of farmers, forester firms, loggers, miners, oil and gas companies, and the companies that make and market off-road gear, such as four-wheel motorbikes.

The environmental sector has long criticized those industries for damaging the appearance and vitality of parkland by building roads and mines, and by piling up waste. soil and rocks.

REI’s interests match those of the politically influential environmental sector, which wants to keep most business off the federal government’s huge landholdings.

Jewell was lauded by Neera Tanden, head of the liberal Center for American Progress. “Very excited by the nomination of Sally Jewell at Interior… great to have a woman business leader who has led a progressive company,” Tanden tweeted Feb. 6.

Environmental activists have rooted for Jewell. “I would prefer seeing Jewell in the role [and] I don’t have any questions about Jewell’s credentials as an environmentalist,” Al Bergstein, a Washington state environmentalist wrote Feb. 2.

Jewell also worked as an oil engineer for a few years before 1980, possibly muting oil-sector criticism of her appointment.

Since 2009, the oil and gas industry has complained that Obama’s appointees have hindered energy surveys and extraction on federally-controlled lands and water.

Jewell selection would mark the first non-male appointment to Obama’s second cabinet.

Her nomination may lessen liberal protests about a lack of sexual “diversity” among Obama’s cabinet members.

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