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Interior official who led Hawaii meetings will join environmental group

    Rhea Suh, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget for the DOI, explains her purpose at the fourth Dept. of Interior meeting with Native Hawaiians community members at Makakilo Elementary in Kapolei on Thursday June 26, 2014. The US Dept. of Int. has scheduled a series of 3-hour public meetings in Hawaii to listen to comments on how to reestablish a government-to-government relationship between the US and the Native Hawaiian Community.

Rhea Suh, an assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, will become president of the Natural Resources Defense Council in January.

Suh was in Hawaii this summer to preside over public meetings held by the department exploring the possibility of re-establishing a government-to-government relationship with Native Hawaiians.

 "It has been an unparalleled privilege to work for the president and interior secretaries," Suh said in an announcement by the Council in New York. "Now, I’m honored to join NRDC, our nation’s intrepid defender of clean air, safe water, and wild places."

Suh had been assistant secretary for policy, management and budget at the Interior Department. She was also nominated by President Barack Obama to head the Fish and Wildlife Service, but her nomination stalled in the Senate due to Republican opposition.

Suh will replace NRDC President Frances Beinecke, who is retiring after 40 years with the organization. NRDC, a nonprofit, environmental group with 1.4 million members, says it works to protect the world’s natural resources and public health.

"The Natural Resources Defense Council has selected a great leader to command the organization," Kamana’opono Crabbe, CEO of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said in a statement Thursday. "Even with the range of challenges that were in front of her, Rhea always exhibited tremendous character, fortitude and compassion for those impacted by injustice." 

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