President Donald Trump on Monday introduced he’ll nominate David Bernhardt because the 53rd secretary of the Division of the Inside.
Bernhardt, a former fossil gasoline lobbyist with a slew of potential conflicts of pursuits, has led the company in an performing function since scandal-plagued company chief Ryan Zinke resigned early final month.
“David has accomplished a incredible job from the day he arrived, and we stay up for having his nomination formally confirmed!” Trump wrote in a Twitter put up.
Trump’s nomination comes after weeks of hypothesis about who can be chosen as Zinke’s everlasting substitute. A number of different names surfaced as contenders for the function, together with Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), former Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and former Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.). The put up requires Senate affirmation.
In a short assertion posted to Twitter, Bernhardt mentioned it’s “a humbling privilege to be nominated to steer a Division whose mission I really like, to perform the balanced, widespread sense imaginative and prescient of our President.”
Bernhardt, a Colorado native, has served because the deputy secretary of the Inside Division since August 2017. He performed a key function in lots of regulatory rollbacks throughout Zinke’s tenure, together with efforts to dismantle Obama-era protections for the better sage grouse and to revise the Endangered Species Act, considered one of America’s bedrock conservation legal guidelines. Dozens of conservation teams signed a letter opposing his nomination to the deputy secretary function, citing his ties to business and labeling him “a strolling battle of curiosity.” These teams echoed that message following Monday’s announcement.
Jennifer Rokala, government director of the Heart for Western Priorities, a Colorado-based advocacy group, known as the nomination “an affront to America’s parks and public lands.”
“If a strolling battle of curiosity like David Bernhardt will get confirmed, oversight and true transparency might be extra essential than ever,” she mentioned in a press release.
Bernhardt is amongst a number of high Cupboard officers tasked with regulating the very industries they beforehand labored for.
Previous to his present stint at Inside, Bernhardt labored for eight years on the regulation agency Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, the place he lobbied on behalf of oil, gasoline, mining and agricultural pursuits. He additionally beforehand served as a high Inside official underneath former President George W. Bush, main a failed try and open Alaska’s pristine Arctic Nationwide Wildlife Refuge to grease and gasoline improvement ― now a precedence of the Trump administration because it pushes its “vitality dominance” agenda.
Bernhardt is amongst a number of Inside Division officers who’ve dedicated seemingly clear violations of Trump’s ethics pledge. As Inside’s deputy secretary, Bernhardt met on a number of events with lobbyists for MGM Resorts Worldwide, the casino-resort large that his longtime former employer represents. The ethics settlement he signed final yr bars him from taking part in issues involving Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.
He has so many potential conflicts, in truth, that he carries round a listing of former shoppers he’s barred from taking part in selections about, The Washington Publish reported in November.
Regardless of his personal moral woes, Bernhardt on Friday despatched a memo to the company’s 70,000 workers members touting his efforts to enhance the “moral tradition” on the company.
“Whereas serving as Deputy Secretary, I personally devoted an incredible quantity of effort to remodeling and enhancing the ethics infrastructure all through our group,” he wrote. “It has been badly uncared for for a lot too lengthy.”
Throughout the current partial authorities shutdown, Bernhardt got here underneath hearth for permitting the Nationwide Park Service to faucet into park entrance charges to maintain websites open and fight mounting trash and sanitation points. He additionally confronted accusations from Home Pure Sources Chairman Rep. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.) and different Democrats that he gave the fossil gasoline business a free go throughout the shutdown, prioritizing his business allies over all else. As an estimated 800,000 federal staff went with out paychecks, the Inside Division plowed forward with its “vitality dominance” agenda, approving oil and gasoline leases and amending the Bureau of Ocean Vitality Administration’s shutdown contingency plan to convey again dozens of furloughed staff to proceed work on offshore drilling actions.
Grijalva known as Bernhardt’s nomination “an ideal instance of all the pieces improper with this administration.”
“We intend to conduct vigorous oversight of Mr. Bernhardt’s business ties and the way they might affect his coverage selections,” Grijalva mentioned in a press release. “This administration has misplaced the advantage of the doubt, thanks in no small half to Ryan Zinke’s failed tenure on the Inside Division. We count on Mr. Bernhardt to proper the ship and can act in his absence if he doesn’t.”