Trump Interior Official Who Pushed Arctic Drilling Joins Oil Company In Alaska

Joe Balash, left, after a meeting earlier this year in Arctic Village, where some oppose oil drilling in nearby Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Nat Herz/Alaska’s Energy Desk

Balash said he would abide by a Trump administration ethics pledge that, for five years, blocks high-level appointees from lobbying the agency where they worked.

“Throughout his time at Interior, Joe Balash spearheaded efforts to suppress science, ignore indigenous rights and sell off the Arctic Refuge for drilling at all costs,” the Sierra Club’s Lena Moffitt said in a statement. “Now, he’s shamelessly seeking to profit from this destruction while the American people and our public lands pay the price.”

Balash is only the latest Trump administration official to raise questions about ties to the industry he was appointed to regulate. Earlier this year, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt was hired by an Indiana coal mining company to lobby against plant closures there. His replacement, Andrew Wheeler, spent time lobbying for coal, chemical and uranium companies. And David Bernhardt, the current Interior secretary, is a former oil industry lobbyist.

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