I'm as surprised as anyone, considering my recent TAS punditry on who would succeed Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior. Sally Jewel, 56, the CEO of Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), has no experience in public service, yet according to the AP, she enjoys the support of both the Sierra Club for work devoted to environmental non-profits, and of the Western Energy Alliance thanks to her previous career as a petroleum engineer for Mobil Oil Corp. In 2011 she introduced President Obama at a White House seminar titled "America's Great Outdoors," which promoted the $300 billion–6.5 million jobs U.S. outdoor recreation industry, along with Michelle Obama's efforts to get kids exercising outdoors as a way to combat childhood obesity. At today's White House introduction ceremony the president called her an "expert on energy and climate issues," and these will certainly be mentioned in Obama's upcoming State of the Union address. Her confirmation hearing shouldn't be particularly rocky, but her knowledge of the broad national canvas of the Interior Department is likely shallow. As for the president, this pick is either brilliant in its bipartisan consensus, or will prove to be a disaster as a Beltway rookie wades into the political, bureaucratic, and legal quagmire that are the federal public lands agencies.
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