September 4, 2019 / 1:14 PM / 15 days ago

Trump oil official departs for Papua New Guinea firm expanding in Alaska -report

WASHINGTON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - A former Trump administration official who oversaw oil and gas drilling on federal lands resigned last week to work for Papua New Guinea-based Oil Search Ltd, which is expanding its Alaska operations, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Joe Balash, who served nearly two years as the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management, confirmed the move to the news outlet but declined to detail his specific role.

A representative for the department confirmed Balash resigned effective Aug. 30. Oil Search and Balash could not be immediately reached for comment.

Balash is the latest top Trump administration official in the Interior Department to leave for a job in the private sector.

Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who resigned in July 2018 after widespread criticism for alleged ethical missteps, has taken on work as a coal consultant, according to media reports.

Interior’s former energy counselor Vincent DeVito also joined Cox Oil Offshore as executive vice president and general counsel after leaving his federal job, the Post reported on Wednesday.

Trump replaced Pruitt with Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who had also spent years working as a congressional staffer.

In leaving his government job, Balash told the Post he would maintain the Trump administration’s pledge barring appointees from lobbying their agencies for five years but would oversee other Oil Search employees who do work with the federal government.

The company has recently increased its stake in Alaskan assets.

Balash served as deputy commissioner for the state’s Department of Natural Resources. (Writing by Susan Heavey Editing by Paul Simao)

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