Trump to nominate Colorado native David Bernhardt to be Interior secretary

James Marshall
February 5, 2019

President Donald Trump said on Monday he would nominate David Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist, to be secretary of the interior, the department that oversees USA public lands.

"Our new leaders in Congress can demonstrate respect for our country's most unique natural treasures by not only holding both Zinke and Bernhardt accountable for possible ethical violations, but by only confirming an Interior secretary who wishes to strengthen and protect public lands and waters, not destroy them for corporate gain", Wyatt concluded.

In formally sending Bernhardt's nomination to the Senate, Trump wrote on Twitter that Bernhardt was doing "a fantastic job" as acting secretary and deserved confirmation.

Bernhardt has remained low-profile as Trump weighed him and a half-dozen other reported contenders, chiefly western lawmakers, as successors to Zinke.

If Bernhardt ascends to secretary, it would mirror the change of guard at the Environmental Protection Agency where last July Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, replaced Scott Pruitt, who stepped down after a series of probes into his conduct.

The Interior Department called its effort important to bolstering US energy independence.

Mr. Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist whose clients included oil companies, had been serving in an interim role since Mr. Zinke departed under an ethics cloud at the end of previous year. Bernhardt will have to be confirmed by the Senate before he can officially take over. Bernhardt recused himself from some of those topics but some of the recusals have expired, opening him up to work on policies that he formerly challenged on behalf of his clients.

Republicans say Mr. Bernhardt's revolving-door experience makes him an informed regulator in matters before the agency. Democrats and environmental groups say he's vulnerable to conflicts of interest.

Under leadership of Zinke and Bernhardt, the interior department has pushed to open more Alaskan wilderness and offshore waters to oil and gas development.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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