Brune's confirmation comes after a series of tense hearings marked by significant testimony against his nomination. Opposition centered on his previous work tied to the proposed Pebble Mine.
The Alaska Legislature confirmed all of Gov. Mike Dunleavy's cabinet appointees in its annual joint session on April 17. That includes Jason Brune, who was approved as the commissioner for the Department of Environmental Conservation by a vote of 35 - 24.
The appointment comes after a particularly tense series of confirmation hearings before the legislature's resources committees. Brune's first hearing before the House in March had to be extended to a second session due to the large number of people who testified, the majority of whom opposed his appointment. Concerns centered largely on Brune's previous work tied to the proposed Pebble Mine. He worked for Anglo American from 2011 to 2014. Anglo American backed the project until 2013. In the past, Brune has also stated publicly that Pebble could be built without endangering the region's fisheries. As commissioner, Brune will have the authority to issue key state permits for the mine.
Brune worked as land resources senior director for Cook Inlet Region, Inc. before accepting Dunleavy's nomination following the governor's election. Brune’s supporters have pointed to his professional experience as proof of his suitability to the job.
Brune has pushed back against his critics as well; around the time of his last confirmation hearings, he gave a speech in Anchorage to the Resource Development Council, an industry group. In it, he did not state his position on Pebble. But he did argue that his opponents were anti-development. He said that as commissioner, he would work to both protect the environment and encourage responsible resource development by cutting out unneccessary regulations.