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REI CEO Sally Jewell faces Senate confirmation hearing

Interior Secretary nominee Sally Jewell testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 7, 2013, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on her nomination. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

REI CEO Sally Jewell faced several hours of questioning in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

She was given high praise for her work as an oil engineer and corporate CEO but faced criticism for being too environmental.

The University of Washington graduate was introduced by Washington Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

“Her unique background and her executive experience make her the right person at the right time to be Secretary of Interior,” Senator Murray told the committee.

Jewell opened by saying she was humbled by the nomination and ready for the job. “Being the CEO of REI is a pretty darn great job,” she said. “But there’s no role that compares to serving my country.”

Jewell told the committee she would push for a balance of using public lands for their economic potential while protecting them.

“I have a commitment to the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, increasing our nation’s production of both traditional and renewable sources of energy on our public lands,” she said.

Jewell was tested by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin about coal production. She was also tested by Wyoming Senator John Barrasso for her involvement in the National Parks Conservation Association which has sued the federal government to restrict energy production.

“It also sues the federal government in support of policies that put people in Wyoming and across America out of work,” he said. “It has sued the federal government to shut down coal-fired power plants, to end coal production, to block oil and gas production.”

But the most interesting exchange during the hearing surrounded a rather unusual topic, University of Washington football. It was brought up by Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander.

“Are you familiar with the record of their football team?” Senator Alexander asked.

“Unfortunately I am sir,” replied Jewell.

“Is that your fault?” he asked. “Completely,” she answered.

“I accept full responsibility and if confirmed I think the football team will do better.”

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