Obama mentions Mailbox Peak in Jewell's Press Conference
President Obama picked business executive Sally Jewell for Interior secretary on Wednesday, citing both her environmental and economic experience.
"She knows the link between conservation and good jobs," Obama said during an event at the White House. "She knows 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 and hand."
Jewell. president and CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), said she is "energized" by the opportunity to be steward of the nation's public lands.
"I have a great job at REI today, but there's no role that compares than the call to serve my country as secretary of the Department of Interior," said Jewell, whose $2 billion-a-year company sells clothing and gear for the outdoors and is headquartered in Kent, Wash.
If confirmed by the Senate, Jewell would replace Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who announced his resignation last month and attended the White House announcement.
Obama praised Salazar for ushering in "a new era in conservation," while Salazar praised the president for a "stellar decision" in selecting Jewell as his replacement.
Jewell also lauded Salazar, and joked about his trademark cowboy hat.
"I'm going to do my best to fill those big boots of yours, but I think I might get lost in your hat," Jewell told Salazar.
The selection of Jewell may also ease criticism that Obama has relied too much on white men to stock his second-term Cabinet.
Jewell has been to the White House before, introducing Obama at a 2011 White House event for "America's Great Outdoors Initiative."
The Interior Department is responsible for promoting conservation and managing the nation's 500 million acres of public land, from the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone park.
In his introduction, Obama said Jewell will also help develop other aspects of his administration's economic policy, including development of clean energy sources and dealing with climate change.
Obama noted that Jewell studied engineering, worked il fields of Oklahoma and Colorado, and also has banking experience; she then turned REI into "one of America's most successful and environmentally conscious companies."
Jewell also has a love of the great outdoors, Obama said, joking that "I'm willing to bet that she'll be the first secretary of the Interior who frequently hikes Mailbox Peak in her native Washington state, and who once spent a month climbing mountains in Antarctica -- which is just not something I think of doing."
As the crowd laughed, Obama said, "it seems like it'd be cold, and I was born in Hawaii."
In addition to her work with "America's Great Outdoors Initiative," Jewell has won numerous environmental awards, including the 2009 Rachel Carson Award for Environmental Conservation from the Audubon Society.