Pourchot named to interior post

Former Alaska lawmaker brings decades of experience

Posted: Friday, May 08, 2009

ANCHORAGE - A former Alaska legislator will be the Department of Interior's special assistant for the state.

The Interior Secretary on Thursday appointed Pat Pourchot as special assistant for Alaska affairs.

"Pat's background with the Department of Interior, the State of Alaska Native organizations, and the environmental community make him uniquely qualified to represent the Department of the Interior in Alaska," Salazar said in a press release.

Pourchot's decades of experience would be invaluable as the department tackles energy opportunities and preserves landscapes, Salazar said.

The job will be a return to the Interior Department for Pourchot.

He was hired in 1970 as an outdoor recreation planner. He later worked for the Bureau of Land Management on environmental issues surrounding the transport of Alaska oil to U.S. markets.

He was hired by former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Alaska, and worked on oil and gas, mining, forestry and environmental issues.

Pourchot has worked as a land manager for the Alaska Federation of Natives and as a resource manager for an Alaska Native regional corporation.

He was elected as an Anchorage Democrat in 1984 to the state House of Representatives and served two terms. He was elected to the Senate in 1988 and served four years.

After leaving the Legislature, Pourchot worked for Commonwealth North and then Gov. Tony Knowles, first as legislative director and then as commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources.

Since 2005, Pourchot has worked with nonprofit agencies. Most recently, he was senior policy representative for Audubon Alaska.

"For the last two-and-a-half years, Audubon has been proud to draw on Pat Pourchot's great knowledge and understanding of Alaska," said Stan Senner, Audubon Alaska executive director. He said Pourchot would be a tremendous asset to Salazar.

Pourchot will be based in Anchorage. Salazar tapped another ex-lawmaker, state Sen. Kim Elton, as director of Alaska affairs. Elton is based in Washington, D.C.

Alaska's two U.S. senators praised the appointment.

"Pat's a good man," said Republican Lisa Murkowski. "He's positive and is a person of integrity and I'm very appreciative of his willingness to take this position.

Democratic Sen. Mark Begich said Salazar made a great choice.

"Pat has decades of experience as a Senate aide in Washington, legislator in Juneau, Natural Resources commissioner for Alaska and advocate for responsible development with conservation groups in Anchorage," he said. "I'm confident Pat has the diplomatic skills to balance competing interests facing Interior issues in Alaska and won't be bashful about telling the Obama administration the blunt truth about Alaska issues."

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