Governor Sean Parnell today appointed Joe Balash as the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Balash has served as acting commissioner since September 24. DNR is organized into seven divisions, including Agriculture, Forestry, Geological & Geophysical Surveys, Mining, Land & Water, Oil & Gas, Parks and Outdoor Recreation, and Support Services.
"Joe is a great addition to my cabinet," Governor Parnell said. "He has outstanding credentials with a solid understanding of the Department of Natural Resources, public policy, and issues that influence resource development in our state."
Balash has served the State of Alaska and the Alaska Legislature as staff since 1998. Prior to being named acting commissioner, Balash served as a deputy commissioner for DNR since December 2010. One of two deputies in DNR, Balash was charged with the day-to-day management and supervision of the State of Alaska's land management agency, with an annual budget of $170 million and 1,100 employees. He was responsible for the direct oversight of the Division of Oil and Gas, Division of Geologic and Geophysical Surveys, the Mental Health Trust Land Office, the State Pipeline Coordinator's Office, the Gas Pipeline Project Office, and formerly, the Division of Coastal and Ocean Management. As deputy commissioner, Balash was instrumental in the passage of the More Alaska Production Act.
Balash also served as a special assistant in the Office of the Governor for energy and natural resources from December 2006 until December 2010, when he was named deputy commissioner. He also was staff to the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee on gas pipeline negotiations, and was chief of staff to the president of the Alaska Senate.
Balash received a bachelor's degree in politics and government from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. He resides in Anchorage with his wife and two daughters.