Mining group chooses Naaszas, replacing Gerard

The National Mining Association (NMA) has picked Kraig Naasz of the Fertilizer Institute as its new president and CEO.

Naasz replaces Jack Gerard, who left the mining group last spring to head the American Chemistry Council. Gerard had directed the NMA since 2001.

In addition to running the Fertilizer Institute since 2002, Naasz also led the U.S. Apple Association for six years and spent several years on Capitol Hill.

From 1985 to 1992, he worked for Republican members of Washington state’s congressional delegation, including former Sens. Daniel Evans and Slade Gorton.

John Brinzo, chairman of the NMA, said the executive task force that led the search was attracted to Naasz’s experience directing trade groups and his time as a Hill staffer.

“He just has a good record overall,” said Brinzo, who also is the president and CEO of Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., an iron-ore mining company.

The mining group was reportedly also eyeing former administration officials Joe Allbaugh, the ex-director of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, and Andrew Lundquist, who was a senior policy adviser on energy to Vice President Cheney. Both men now direct their own lobbying firms. Allbaugh’s clients include the mining association.  He said through a spokesperson that he was not approached for the job.  Lundquist was not available for comment.

Brinzo said the NMA looked at several candidates, but he declined to name others who had been in the running.

The mining group is also looking for someone to direct its lobbying efforts, although Brinzo indicated that that the job could be filled internally. John Shelk, its former vice president of government relations, left to direct the Electric Power Supply Association shortly after Gerard departed.

Hal Quinn has acted as director and Dan Gerkin as head of NMA’s lobbying shop in the interim. Both are longtime association employees.

Naasz moves from a group with a $3 million budget and 250 members to one with a $13 million budget and 360 members. But the association Naasz takes over is smaller than the one Gerard inherited. Gerard led a reorganization of the group, which included a reduction in staff from 70 employees to 30 and a move to new office space at 101 Constitution Ave.

The mining group, however, remains an active lobby, particularly on energy and environmental issues. Its member companies in the coal business, for example, were one of the biggest winners in the energy bill Congress approved last week.

The massive bill, the first major energy policy to come from Congress in more than a decade, doles out billions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives to pay for researching and developing ways to make coal burn cleaner. The tax help includes investment-tax credits for utilities that use “clean coal” technologies.

The mining group mounted a quick, sharp and ultimately successful effort to scuttle an attempt in the Senate to include mandatory curbs on greenhouse-gas emissions in the energy bill. The group argued that one compromise proposal would cost coal companies $60 billion over the next two decades.

Utilities are the largest single man-made source of carbon-dioxide emissions, which some scientists argue are contributing to an escalation in global temperatures.

The climate-change debate is expected to continue in the Senate after lawmakers return from their August recess.

One source familiar with the association said Naasz may have been an attractive candidate to head the organization in part because of his lack of experience in mining issues.

There is often tension within large trade groups about what issues should take priority. At NMA, the fault lines run between the larger coal companies and other mineral-mining businesses that make up NMA’s membership.

But Brinzo said there is no tension within the group, although its members may not share an “exact agenda.”

The headhunting firm Heidrick & Struggles helped the group with the search.