The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to advance the nominations of two more special interest political appointees to powerful positions at the Department of the Interior. On a voice vote, the committee confirmed Joe Balash to be Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Land and Minerals Management and Ryan Nelson to be Solicitor of the Interior.
Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project, released the following statement:
These nominees both have a clear record of doing the bidding of powerful interests with access to the Trump administration. With these appointees, the deck will continue to be stacked against the outdoor industry in favor of the oil and gas industry. Both Balash and Nelson are in Secretary Zinke’s mold of Washington insiders who have no interest in protecting our Western heritage and public lands. The Senate should vote against these nominees who would only add to the long list of special interests running the show at Interior.”
Balash and Nelson will now be considered by the full senate.
Solicitor of the Interior Nominee:
Ryan Nelson has a history of using his position of power to intimidate critics. As a former George W. Bush appointee, Nelson argued against conservation groups as deputy attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. Most recently, he worked for the health care product company Melaleuca, Inc. and its CEO Frank VanderSloot. Serving as legal counsel for the company, Nelson used lawsuits and other bullying tactics to attack and silence journalists who scrutinized VanderSloot’s position on LGBT issues. View Nelson’s full Department of Influence profile here.
Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Land and Minerals Management Nominee:
Joe Balash has worked for Alaska politicians, including former Governor Sarah Palin, for more than a decade and has a track record of showing favoritism to large oil and gas corporations. Balash pushed to irresponsibly expedite oil and gas leasing and energy infrastructure permitting, was a ‘key player’ on a bill to lower oil taxes in 2013, and lowered the royalty rate for some oil leases operated by Caelus Energy. View Balash’s full Department of Influence profile here.