Trump Taps Oil Lobbyist For Secretary Of Interior

Trump Taps Oil Lobbyist For Secretary Of Interior

Trump Taps Oil Lobbyist For Secretary Of Interior

President Donald Trump said on Monday he would nominate David Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist, to be secretary of the interior, the department that oversees us public lands.

Former U.S. Interior secretary Ryan Zinke, seen here during a news conference in July 2017, resigned in December and now faces a number of ethics inquiries.

Trump tweeted Monday that Bernhardt "has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived". "The Senate must reject Bernhardt because he will undoubtedly put his fossil fuel industry friends before the American people and our environment".

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"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.

In a statement, Bernhardt called it a "humbling privilege to be nominated to lead a department whose mission I love, to accomplish the balanced, commonsense vision of our president".

Mr. Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist whose clients included oil companies, had been serving in an interim role since Mr. Zinke departed under an ethics cloud at the end of past year. This will include confirmation hearings before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Rather than asking the Senate confirm controversial Acting Attorney General Matthew Whittaker for the job, Trump nominated William Barr, who won high marks as George H.W. Bush's attorney general from 1990-93.

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Before rejoining government service, Bernhardt worked as a lobbyist and lawyer for several oil and gas companies and other interests that sometimes have regulatory matters before the department.

Coming back to Interior as Mr. Zinke's deputy, Mr. Bernhardt recused himself from decisions involving a long list of former industry clients to avoid conflicts of interest under ethics rules.

Bernhardt would also oversee the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's (ANWR) coastal plain to oil and gas exploration.

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