Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Monday that he has appointed a longtime political ally to head the state agency that regulates oil and gas operations in Alaska.
Brett Huber Sr., a former senior policy adviser and once-campaign manager to the governor, will serve as chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission starting on Monday, the governor’s office announced.
Huber will occupy the public seat of the three-member board.
“With Mr. Huber’s vast knowledge and background in resource development in Alaska, I am proud to appoint him in this role,” Dunleavy said in the statement. “I look forward to watching his efforts to protect public interest and do what’s best for Alaska and her people.”
Huber said in an interview on Monday that he views his role as protecting hydrocarbons that belong to Alaska and its citizens.
“I take it seriously and I like to do my homework,” he said. “I’ll have an opportunity to learn, I’m certain. There are great professional staff there with years of experience and I’m looking forward to going there.”
The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is a quasi-judicial regulatory agency that oversees oil and gas drilling and production in Alaska. Key roles include reservoir depletion and investigations of spills and leaks.
The chair of the commission is paid $150,000 annually.
Huber moved to Alaska in 1984 from Colorado and earlier in his career designed and installed geomembranes, such as synthetic liners, for Alaska oil and gas operators, the statement from the governor’s office said.
For much of his career, Huber also worked for state lawmakers and the Legislature.
In 2018, Huber was Dunleavy’s campaign manager, and later served as the governor’s senior policy adviser and communications director.
Huber left direct state employment last year, instead signing a consulting contract with the governor’s office and also becoming involved in Dunleavy’s reelection efforts.
His work was part of an an ongoing complaint before the Alaska Public Offices Commission, brought by two watchdog groups. The complaint alleged coordination between the governor’s official campaign and an independent expenditure group, which is illegal under state law.
The elections commission in October declined to take action before the November election and said in a two-page order it did not find “further evidence of coordination” between Dunleavy’s reelection campaign and the third-party group supporting Dunleavy. Huber had served for a period of time as campaign deputy treasurer and was also a consultant hired by the third-party group.
Huber on Monday maintained he hadn’t broken campaign rules and the complaint never provided evidence showing he was involved in coordination. “It was a campaign tactic,” he said of the complaint. APOC staff could not immediately be reached on Monday.
Huber will fill the remaining four years of the public seat at the commission that was previously occupied by Jeremy Price, who left the oil and gas regulatory agency in September to work as a public relations manager for HF Sinclair at a refinery in Anacortes, Wash.
Price also had close professional ties to the governor, having worked as a former deputy chief of staff for Dunleavy until the governor nominated him to the oil and gas conservation commission in 2019.
The governor nominates members of the board to six-year staggered terms.
The commission has seen substantial change in recent months. The governor in September appointed Greg Wilson, a former ConocoPhillips petroleum geologist, to the seat held by a geologist. Wilson replaced longtime commissioner Daniel Seamount.
The third seat focused on petroleum engineering is occupied by Jessie Chmielowski, who was appointed by Dunleavy in 2019 and is a former petroleum engineer for the Bureau of Land Management.