Trump Appoints Ex-Oil Lobbyist to Interior Secretary, Environmentalists Express Concern

Acting Secretary David Bernhardt visiting Watson Hopper Inc. in Hobbs, New Mexico. Photo credit Flickr Creative Commons.

President Trump has announced he is appointing David Bernhardt to be secretary of the Interior Department. He will replace Ryan Zinke, who resigned in January amid an ethics scandal.

Bernhardt will oversee approximately 500 million acres, as well as any energy production on that land. The department itself oversees federal land, offshore drilling, endangered species and Native American affairs, among other things.

According to The Hill, in his previous position of deputy secretary, Bernhardt “worked hand in hand with Zinke on his oil and gas leasing agenda and took the lead on many others, including the administration’s push to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the rollback of a number of Endangered Species Act regulations.”

The pick of Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist, has environmentalists concerned. The National Resources Defense Council, in a post on its website, states that Bernhardt spent several years as a registered lobbyist. “His clients included Samson Resources, the largest privately held crude oil and natural gas company in the United States; Halliburton, the multinational oilfield services company where former vice president Dick Cheney once was CEO; Rosemont Copper, a proposed copper mine near Tucson that’s been the subject of an 11-year legal battle with Native American tribes and environmental groups; and the Independent Petroleum Association of America, a consortium made up of thousands of oil and gas producers scattered across the country,” the post states.

We are currently accepting submissions for the 2019 Environmental Leader Awards. Learn more and submit a project or product here.

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