Interior Department Snags Capitol Hill Vet for Outreach Gig

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell testifies before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
National Journal
Ben Geman
Jan. 21, 2014, 6:36 a.m.

The In­teri­or De­part­ment is bring­ing on a vet­er­an of Cap­it­ol Hill and Pres­id­ent Obama’s 2008 cam­paign to work with states, con­ser­va­tion groups, and oth­er out­side parties.

John Blair be­gins this week as dir­ect­or of in­ter­gov­ern­ment­al and ex­tern­al af­fairs at In­teri­or, where he will man­age re­la­tion­ships with gov­ernors, may­ors, and groups like the Si­erra Club and the Wil­der­ness So­ci­ety, the de­part­ment said.

Blair was most re­cently chief of staff for Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., and he has also worked for Sen. (and former House mem­ber) Mar­tin Hein­rich, D-N.M. He was Pres­id­ent Obama’s New Mex­ico polit­ic­al dir­ect­or dur­ing the 2008 cam­paign.

He’ll have plenty on his plate at In­teri­or, a de­part­ment that over­sees vast swaths of gov­ern­ment land in West­ern states and some­times col­lides with gov­ernors who chafe at the strong fed­er­al pres­ence in their re­gion.

For in­stance, Blair is ar­riv­ing months after In­teri­or Sec­ret­ary Sally Jew­ell un­veiled a new policy aimed at bal­an­cing con­ser­va­tion and en­ergy de­vel­op­ment, and as In­teri­or is craft­ing con­tro­ver­sial reg­u­la­tions to gov­ern hy­draul­ic frac­tur­ing on fed­er­al lands.