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Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Land and Minerals Management

Joe Balash was nominated to be the Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Management. In that role, Balash will oversee the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, and head “Interior’s management of all federal lands and waters, and their associated mineral and non-mineral resources, as well as the appropriate regulation of surface coal mining.”

Joe Balash is the former Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and has worked for politicians for more than a decade. Since 1998, Balash has worked for the Alaska Legislature, advised Sarah Palin “on natural resource policy, permitting, and energy,” and most recently, served as Chief of Staff to Senator Dan Sullivan.

Sources: [Department of the Interior, Press Release, 07/20/17, and White House, Press Release, 07/19/17]

Special Interests

Caelus Energy (Resource Development on Public Lands)

In 2014, Joe Balash approved cutting the royalty rate for leases operated by oil company Caelus Energy.

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also connected to:

BP (Resource Development on Public Lands)

In 2014, Joe Balash "accompanied BP officials to Asia on the first formal sales trip" for the Alaska LNG Project, to "demonstrate the alignment between Alaska and the producer companies."

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Background Information

Previous Employers

Alaska State Legislature

President of the Senate, Alaska Legislature

Governor Sarah Palin, Alaska

Governor Sean Parnell, Alaska

Deputy Commissioner, Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Commissioner, Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Senator Dan Sullivan, United States Senate

Additional Background on Employers of Note:

Joe Balash was the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, which managed lands and waters that produced “more than 500,000 barrels of oil… daily.”

[Department of the Interior, Press Release, 07/20/17, and White House, Press Release, 07/19/17]

In 2014, Joe Balash’s Alaska Department of Natural Resources claimed nearly 20,000 acres of land in ANWR, and Balash said he hoped they be “‘quickly'” transferred, “‘so we can offer them for'” oil and gas leasing.

In 2014, under Joe Balash’s leadership, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources sent a letter to the Bureau of Land Management “laying claim” to 20,000 acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources requested the BLM “give a priority conveyance of the lands to the state under provisions of the Alaska Statehood Act, which allow[ed] Alaska to select up to 103 million acres of federal lands.” Balash said it was his hope “‘that BLM [would] move quickly to convey the lands so we can offer them for leasing.'”

[Tim Bradner, “State claims 20,000 acres on edge of ANWR,” Juneau Empire, 10/29/14 and Dermot Cole, “State asks feds for transfer of 19,322 disputed acres on North Slope,” Alaska Dispatch News, 10/20/14]

Joe Balash, in 2011, testified before Congress in support of a bill to “expedite oil and gas leasing and energy infrastructure permitting” in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. Critics of the bill said it could “imperil sensitive habitats for birds and caribou.”

Joe Balash, in June 2011, testified before the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources in “support” of “the objectives” of the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act. Balash asserted that this legislation was a “good first step towards realizing the potential federal lands in Alaska have to provide domestic energy supplies.”

[Joe Balash, “The National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act,” House Natural Resources Committee, 06/16/11]

The National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act was legislation to “expedite oil and gas leasing and energy infrastructure permitting” in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. Critics of the bill said it “fail[ed] to acknowledge the poor prospects for oil development in the reserve and could imperil sensitive habitats for birds and caribou.”

[Phil Taylor, “OIL AND GAS: Obama admin objects to Alaska development bill,” Greenwire, 06/16/11]

Joe Balash, in 2013, advocated for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge exploration by asking the Fish and Wildlife Service to allow seismic studies in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In 2013, as the acting commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Joe Balash advocated for exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Balash petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “to reconsider its decision to bar [Alaska] from conducting seismic studies in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”

[Margaret Kriz Hobson, “Alaska urges Obama admin to reconsider ANWR seismic studies,” Energywire, 08/22/13]

In 2013, Joe Balash was a “key playe[r]” on a bill to lower oil taxes.

Joe Balash, in 2013, was one of the “key players on Gov. Sean Parnell’s bill to lower oil taxes.”

[Alexandra Gutierrez, “Parnell administration shifts focus from oil to natural gas,” Alaska Public Media, 05/02/13]

In 2014, Joe Balash approved a lower royalty rate for leases operated by oil company Caelus Energy.

Joe Balash, in 2014, approved a lower royalty rate for some of oil company Caelus Energy’s leases. Balash approved “a 5 percent royalty rate for five Nuna leases” that were part of Caelus Energy’s Nuna project. This was much lower than the original royalty terms, which for four of the leases called “for a 30 percent net profit share and a 12.5 percent royalty” and for the other seven leases “had a 16.7 percent royalty rate.”

[Elwood Brehmer, “Caelus’ Nuna plan to advance with lower royalty rates,” Alaska Journal of Commerce, 11/25/14]

In 2014, Joe Balash “accompanied BP officials to Asia on the first formal sales trip” for the Alaska LNG Project.

Joe Balash, in 2014, “accompanied BP officials to Asia on the first formal sales trip” for the Alaska LNG Project. Balash said that the purpose of the trip was “to demonstrate the alignment between Alaska and the producer companies.”

[Tim Bradner, “Balash heads to Japan with BP to market LNG,” Alaska Journal of Commerce, 09/11/14]

Political Connections

Lisa Murkowski

Mead Treadwell

Sarah Palin

Dan Sullivan

Joe Balash has made more than $2,000 in political donations to conservative candidates and causes, including the Alaska Republican party, Lisa Murkowski, and Mead Treadwell.

Since 2005, Joe Balash has given $2,100 to conservative candidates and causes, including the Alaska Republican party, Lisa Murkowski, and Mead Treadwell.

[National Institute on Money in State Politics Search for Joe Balash, 07/24/17]