UPDATE (04/11/19): In a 56-41 vote, the Senate has confirmed David Bernhardt for Secretary of the Interior.
UPDATE (04/10/19): The Senate is expected to hold a final confirmation vote on Bernhardt on Thursday, April 11th.
UPDATE (04/03/19): The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has voted in favor of advancing Bernhardt’s nomination.
Former oil and gas lobbyist and insider David Bernhardt has been nominated to lead the Department of Interior (DOI), the federal agency tasked with protecting our public lands, managing our natural resources, and honoring our nation’s responsibility to indigenous people. Bernhardt served as Deputy Secretary of the DOI under Ryan Zinke, who was forced to resign last December due to mounting ethics investigations. Bernhardt has been Acting Director since Zinke’s resignation but now Trump has tapped him to remain as the permanent head.
Bernhardt has been described as a “walking conflict of interest” because of his previous lobbying work and was forced to recuse himself from matters concerning 26 former clients in order to accept the position as Deputy Secretary. His conflicts are so vast he carries a credit card sized list in his wallet to track which former clients are covered by his ethics recusal. Even though he has recused from former clients, this has not stopped him from making consequential decisions at the DIO. Recently, Bernhardt blocked the release of a report that resulted in a win for giant chemical companies by narrowing the standard to determine the risk of pesticides. This decision alone will “jeopardize the continued existence” of over 1200 already endangered plants and animals.
Bernhardt is yet another example of an industry insider put in charge of regulating the people for whom he once worked. Congress must reject this dangerous appointment to the Department of Interior.