Obama nominates REI CEO as interior secretary, first 2nd term female Cabinet nominee

President Obama applauds as Sally Jewell takes to the podium to speak as outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (R) watches during Jewell's nomination by Obama to be the next Secretary of the Interior in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 6, 2013 in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama today nominated business executive and former engineer Sally Jewell to serve as the next Interior Secretary, making her the first female cabinet nomination of Mr. Obama's second term.

Jewell is president and CEO of the outdoors company Recreational Equipment, Inc., known as REI. Prior to joining REI in 2000, Jewell worked in commercial banking and as an engineer for Mobil Oil Corporation. If confirmed by the Senate, Jewell will replace current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Jewell "knows the link between conservation and good jobs," Mr. Obama said today at the White House, with Jewell and Salazar at his side. "She's shown a company with more than $1 billion in sales can do the right thing for our planet."

The Interior Department is responsible for the oversight of federal lands, natural resources and programs relating to Native Americans. The president praised Salazar's work as secretary, saying that he's "cracked down on waste, he's improved the management of the department... [and] he's ushered in a new era of conservation."

Under Salazar's watch, the federal government opened seven new national parks and opened more public land and water for energy production, Mr. Obama said, including oil, gas, wind and solar energy production.

Salazar returned the compliments, telling the president, "Together we have ushered in a 21st century conservation agenda and preserved the crown jewels of our nation."

Jewell, taking a crack at the cowboy gear that Salazar often wears, said, "I'm going to do my best to fill those big boots of yours, but I think I might get lost in your hat."

Earlier in the year, the president took some heat for his early second-term cabinet nominees, who were all white men.

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