Obama Interior pick: Global warming hurt profits

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

REI, the popular outfitter run by President Obama's choice to head the Interior Department, cited the impact of global warming as a reason for poor profits in its most recent annual report.

"We experienced strong sales in 2011. However, because winter weather failed to arrive, our profitability was impacted," said Brian Unmacht, executive vice president of Recreational Equipment Inc., which has three outlets in the Washington area.

Obama's pick is REI CEO Sally Jewell, who has run the firm since 2005. Under Jewell, REI has blossomed while pursuing a green agenda aimed at cutting carbon emissions and dressing shoppers in environmentally-sensitive gear and clothing.

In a 2007 interview with the enviro-website Grist, she bemoaned REI's carbon footprint, especially from employees commuting to work and even the companies travel program. "One of the shockers to me is 26 percent of REI's greenhouse-gas footprint is REI Adventure travel trips, like the one I'm about to take. It's almost as much as -- or maybe it's equal to -- all of the electricity generated by all of our facilities. And that is, like, stunning," she said.

The president has put global warming in the top of his busy agenda, making her a good fit in his greening Cabinet, said officials. She would replace retiring Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.