Has REI shaped Jewel's views on climate change?
Sally Jewell worked in the oil fields of Oklahoma before taking the reins at REI.
Tree hugger? Or exploiter of the nation’s precious natural resources?
There’s lots of intrigue over what kind of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will be now that she has been nominated by President Obama to fill the cabinet post.
Jewell, a lifelong outdoors enthusiast, has been an advocate for conservation. And her choice to head up the federal agency that manages the nation’s federal lands, including parks, recreation areas and open wilderness, received praise from environmental groups like The Wilderness Society.
But Jewell also heads up REI, an outdoor gear company that did nearly $2 billion in sales last year. Before running REI, Jewell worked in the oil industry, as an engineer in the Oklahoma oil fields.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Interior Secretary, Jewell will manage the nation’s wilderness, including overseeing the extraction of gas, oil and other natural resources from public lands. She will be on the hot seat on tough issues, including fracking and drilling for oil in the Arctic, issues at the core of debates over energy independence and climate change.
I was a guest this afternoon on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Think Out Loud” radio program, and host Dave Miller asked me how Jewell might respond to the conflicting interests of conservationists and energy companies, and how she might address the issue of climate change.
Jewell certainly understands the potential impact that climate change can have on the bottom line of a business.
In 2011, REI said sales grew more than 8 percent. But profits were down, a factor REI blamed on a mild winter that arrived late in some regions of the U.S. Less snow meant fewer people were buying skis, snowshoes and other winter gear, especially during the ever-important holiday shopping season, which took a pinch out of profits.
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