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Sally Jewell
Sally Jewell
In a decision that was no surprise Wednesday afternoon, the Senate confirmed Sally Jewell, the president and CEO of the outdoor and recreational co-op retailer REI, as the 51st secretary of the interior. The vote was 87 to 11. All the "nays" were cast by Republicans.

Environmental advocacy groups have generally praised Jewell for the post, an avid outdoors woman.

For the three years right after her graduation from college, Jewell worked as a Field Production and Special Projects Engineer for Mobil Oil, the giant oil company that later merged with giant Exxon to form the largest company in the world. The experience there gave her the experience to land a job at Rainier Bank in Seattle providing advice on loans to oil operations, and she followed up with post at West One Bank, and Washington Mutual. She was selected as CEO of REI in 2000 and became president in 2005. Her full work history can be read here.

During a hearing March 7 before the Senate Energy Committee, Jewell was quizzed on "fracking," the increasingly controversial practice of hydraulic injection of water and chemicals to pry oil and gas from tight layers of shale. She said she was familiar with process and had been personally involved in fracking a well when she worked for Mobil. The Department of Interior has a strong say in rules governing fracking on public lands as well as permits for oil and gas drilling. Jewell also told committee senators that she viewed the evidence on climate change as "undeniable" and would follow the best science in making any decisions relating to it.

Jewell replaces Ken Salazar of Colorado who has been subject to a decidedly mixed perspective among environmental advocates, many having been particularly disturbed by his stance on opening up more federal land to oil and gas drilling on- and offshore. The Department of Interior oversees more than half a billion acres of national parks and other public lands, more than a billion acres offshore and is responsible for providing services to the nation's 566 federally recognized Indian tribes.

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