Ex-Alaskan to become No. 2 at Department of Interior

Tommy Boudreau at his confirmation hearing at the Senate Energy Committee April 29. (Still from U.S. Senate video)

Former Alaskan Tommy Beaudreau is on his way to becoming the second in command at the U.S. Interior Department as the deputy to Secretary Deb Haaland.

He’ll be working for an administration pushing the nation’s most ambitious climate agenda, but Beaudreau said he understands how important energy development is to Alaska. In 1979, his family moved to Anchorage so his father could work in Prudhoe Bay.

“I’ll always be grateful for my upbringing in Alaska,” he said at his confirmation hearing last week. “Alaska is where I learned to hunt, fish, ski, backpack and appreciate the beauty, adventure and the power of America’s vast landscapes and wild places.”

Beaudreau graduated from Service High in 1990. By then his father had been laid off from the oil industry and had gone to work for an Air Force contractor.

Beaudreau went to law school and joined the Obama administration during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. He became the first director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and later was chief of staff to then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

The Biden White House first named Elizabeth Klein for the No. 2 spot at Interior, but she was dropped amid objection from Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

In an interview with Alaska Public Media last month, Murkowski praised Beaudreau as knowledgeable and a “straight-shooter” whom she can work with, even if she didn’t like the results that came out of the Obama administration. Murkowski and Jewell clashed over whether to allow a road for King Cove through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. It was bitter.

“I will say some of the most harrowing experiences in my career have been sitting in your office and talking about issues that I know we had a difference of opinion on,” Beaudreau told Murkowski during the Senate energy hearing on his confirmation.

Murkowski said the state felt besieged by Biden’s executive orders to review oil and gas projects and public land orders in Alaska. She said she looked to Beaudreau to improve the state’s relationship with the Interior Department.

With Murkowski’s support and no obvious opposition on the committee, Beaudreau’s nomination is likely to move to the full Senate. A vote to confirm Beaudreau as deputy secretary of the Interior Department has not been scheduled yet.

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