Trump To Nominate David Bernhardt As Permanent Interior Secretary

Trump To Nominate David Bernhardt As Permanent Interior Secretary

President Donald Trump said on Monday that he is nominating David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for oil and gas companies and other industries, to head the Interior Department despite objections from environmental groups that Mr. Bernhardt already was making regulatory decisions on the country's natural resources to benefit industries.

Bernhardt became the acting secretary of the agency on January 2, replacing Ryan Zinke, who stepped down in mid-December amid a Justice Department investigation looking into whether he used his office for personal gain.

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. "The Senate must reject Bernhardt because he will undoubtedly put his fossil fuel industry friends before the American people and our environment". Zinke's departure came amid several ethics investigations into him.

"The ethical questions surrounding David Bernhardt and his commitment to pandering to oil, coal, and gas executives make former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke look like a tree-hugging environmentalist in comparison", Greenpeace USA climate campaigner Vicky Wyatt said in a statement.

Bernhardt tweeted in response that it was "a humbling privilege to be nominated to lead a Department whose mission I love, to accomplish the balanced, common sense vision of our President".

Last week, Bloomberg News reported that Trump had interviewed former U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and current U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, for the position along with Bernhardt.

Republicans say Bernhardt's revolving-door experience makes him an informed regulator in matters before the agency.

Bernhardt, who grew up in Rifle, first served in the department under President George W. Bush.

After working under Bush, Bernhardt worked as a lawyer and lobbyist at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, for water and oil interests.

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

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