President Barack Obama today nominated a former oil engineer and current President and CEO of REI, Sally Jewell, to be the new Secretary of the Interior. Jewell, who worked for three years for Mobil Oil and later as a petroleum engineer in the banking industry, has been with the outdoor equipment retailer since 2000, becoming its CEO in 2005.
The nomination is seen as offering something for the oil industry, business in general, and environmentalists given her varied background and work history. It is also seen as more evidence of the President's intent to focus on environmental issues, particularly climate change, as noted in his inauguration speech last month.
REI is the nation's largest consumer cooperative with more than 4.7 million active members. The company also supports nationwide conservation efforts by donating millions of dollars each year and providing teams of volunteers to build trails, clean up beaches, and restore local habitats.
Jewell's professional engineering background in the oil industry should also prove relevant to some of the more contentious issues related to climate change, such as the Keystone tar sands oil pipeline and plans to increase the use of fracking in crude oil formations, such as the Monterey Shale found here in Kern County and elsewhere in California.
In a statement on REI's website today, the firm said that it, "... applauds President Obama’s nomination of Sally Jewell, REI’s CEO and president, to be the nation’s Secretary of the Interior. Sally is a remarkable leader, an excellent business person and a thoughtful steward of our public lands and resources. We believe that she will do a superb job in this very important role."
The statement went on to say that, "During her tenure, Sally championed the co-op’s engagement in supporting volunteer stewardship of public lands, as well as the efforts to manage REI’s environmental footprint...Sally’s broad business background, community leadership, and her depth of knowledge of the range of issues managed by the Department of the Interior will be of significant value to the department and great service to the nation."
She will be replacing current Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.