President Donald Trump today announced the nomination of Joe Balash of Alaska to be an Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Land and Mineral Management.
Under Balash’s direction will be the Bureau of Land Management; the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management; and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
Balash currently serves as the chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, who issued the following statement:
“While I’m sad to see Joe leave the Senate, his departure is a big gain for Secretary Zinke, the Department of Interior, the United States and Alaska. His wealth of knowledge and passion for Alaska – and more broadly federal land issues – cannot be overstated. His advice and counsel on natural resource matters will be invaluable as Secretary Zinke and the Trump Administration chart a new path toward American energy dominance. Alaska can and should be a critical element of this important national objective.”
Insiders have been expecting the appointment for weeks, as the Trump Administration vetted Balash. But many thought the announcement would come in September.
Balash is the former Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, which has management responsibility for one of the largest single portfolios of land and water resources in the world.
He also served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources from 2010 to 2013.
From 2006 to 2010, he advised two governors on natural resource policy, permitting, and energy and was a legislative staffer from 1998 to 2006.
A graduate of Ben Eielson Jr. High School, he is married and has two children. Balash will need to be confirmed by the Senate Natural Resources Committee chaired by Sen. Lisa Murkowski. That confirmation hearing is likely to occur in September, after the August recess.
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