Trump Picks Pro-Polluter Bernhardt to Head Interior

Like former Secretary Ryan Zinke, David Bernhardt has a track record of putting industry profits first.

David Bernhardt during the annual state of Colorado energy luncheon sponsored by the Colorado Petroleum council, 2018

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

President Trump nominated David Bernhardt, currently the acting secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, as the new secretary of the agency. If confirmed, Bernhardt will replace Ryan Zinke, who resigned from his post in December amid multiplying ethics investigations.

“The American public deserves a true steward who will protect our lands, our wildlife, and our waters,” says Ana Unruh Cohen, managing director for government affairs at NRDC, “not another industry shill who will continue to sell our precious natural resources to the highest bidders for exploitation.”

Bernhardt is, unsurprisingly, a former lobbyist for Big Oil and Big Ag. He will soon oversee everything from federal land management to endangered species protections to the approval of natural gas pipelines. Under Zinke, the Interior Department faced continual backlash for prioritizing industry profits, selling off public lands, attacking independent science, and championing trophy hunting.

“Bernhardt might as well be an ideological clone of Ryan Zinke,” Cohen says. “We will hold him accountable and block any efforts to put our natural heritage at risk.”

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