Quantcast

Senate Urged to Reject 'Walking, Talking Conflict of Interest' David Bernhardt to Run Interior

Politics
A demonstrator wears a Creature from the Black Lagoon mask as David Bernhardt, President Donald Trump's nominee to be Interior Secretary, testifies during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing on March 28 in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Environmental activists are calling on senators to reject the nomination of former fossil fuel lobbyist David Bernhardt to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior.


The calls come ahead of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee's Thursday morning hearing to consider his nomination.

"David Bernhardt is a walking, talking conflict of interest," said Alissa Weinman, a senior organizer for the nonprofit Corporate Accountability. "Between his Big Polluter ties and corporate lobbying connections, it's clear Bernhardt will continue to serve the corporate interests to whom he owes his career, not the people or our public lands."

Bernhardt has been under fire for his fossil fuel past since the Senate confirmed him as the agency's deputy administrator in July of 2017. He currently serves as the department's acting administrator, a position he has held since scandal-ridden Ryan Zinke resigned in December. President Donald Trump nominated Bernhardt to the permanent post last month.

"David Bernhardt heading the Interior Department would be a dream come true for fossil fuel companies, but a nightmare for the American people," warned Greenpeace USA climate and energy campaign director Janet Redman.

Noting that "people who care about clean air, safe water, and a healthy climate have been sounding the alarm about Bernhardt's history" for the past two years, Redman charged that "he's done nothing since but prove he's not fit for this job."

A coalition of more than 160 conservation groups, including Greenpeace USA, sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), on Tuesday imploring them to oppose Bernhardt's nomination:

In his 18 months serving as the Interior Department's deputy secretary, Mr. Bernhardt has been at the center of a culture of corruption that has been the Interior Department's hallmark under the Trump administration. He consistently puts private profit above the public interest, crafting policies to benefit past clients and rolling back longstanding rules to protect habitat, imperiled species, and public health.

These actions come straight from the fossil fuel and mining industry's wishlist, including some corporations for which Bernhardt used to work as a lobbyist and lawyer.

The letter outlines the ways in which Bernhardt has helped facilitate a siege on science, put fossil fuels first, imperil wildlife, promote development in the Arctic Refuge, harm national parks and monuments, and block transparency and oversight by Congress and the public.

Campaigners at various groups that signed on to the letter spoke out about Bernhardt's record and urged senators to reject him.

Nicole Ghio of Friends of the Earth denounced Bernhardt as "a fossil fuel industry hack" while Leda Huta of the Endangered Species Coalition called him "a prime example of the culture of special-interest, big-money, influence peddling surrounding this administration."

"His sorry record in protecting America's natural resources, wildlife, and waters makes Bernhardt uniquely unfit for the job," said John Bowman, managing director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Randi Spivak, public lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity, concluded that "Bernhardt has already shown us that he's the most dangerous person to be in charge of our public lands and endangered species."

Bernhardt has so many potential conflicts of interest due to his history as a lobbyist that, as the Washington Post revealed last year, he carries around a pocket-sized card listing all of them.

Public Citizen, another signatory of the letter, printed out a poster-sized version of the card and delivered it to senators voting on his confirmation. As the watchdog group put it, "An oil shill has no business overseeing our natural resources."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Variety of fermented food korean traditional kimchi cabbage and radish salad. white and red sauerkraut in ceramic plates over grey spotted background. Natasha Breen / REDA&CO / Universal Images Group / Getty Image

By Anne Danahy, MS, RDN

Even if you've never taken probiotics, you've probably heard of them.

These supplements provide numerous benefits because they contain live microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast, which support the healthy bacteria in your gut (1, 2, 3, 4).

Read More Show Less
Pexels

Singapore will become the first country in the world to place a ban on advertisements for carbonated drinks and juices with high sugar contents, its health ministry announced last week. The law is intended to curb sugar consumption since the country has some of the world's highest diabetes rates per capita, as Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

A typical adult takes around 20,000 breaths per day. If you live in a megacity like Beijing, with many of those lungfuls you're likely to inhale a noxious mixture of chemicals and pollutants.

Read More Show Less
Fred Stone holds his brown swiss cow Lida Rose at his Arundel dairy farm on March 18 after a press conference where he spoke about PFAS chemical contamination in his fields. Gregory Rec / Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

By Susan Cosier

First there was Fred Stone, the third-generation dairy farmer in Maine who discovered that the milk from his cows contained harmful chemicals. Then came Art Schaap, a second-generation dairy farmer in New Mexico, who had to dump 15,000 gallons of contaminated milk a day.

Read More Show Less
Protesters attend the 32nd annual Fur-Free Friday demonstration on Nov. 23, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. Ella DeGea / Getty Images

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that that bans the sale and manufacture of fur products in the state. The fur ban, which he signed into law on Saturday, prohibits Californians from selling or making clothing, shoes or handbags with fur starting in 2023, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Watchfield Solar Park in England. RTPeat / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Simon Evans

During the three months of July, August and September, renewables generated an estimated total of 29.5 terawatt hours (TWh), compared with just 29.1TWh from fossil fuels, the analysis shows.

Read More Show Less
A demonstrator waves an Ecuadorian flag during protests against the end of subsidies to gasoline and diesel on Oct. 9 in Quito, Ecuador. Jorge Ivan Castaneira Jaramillo / Getty Images

The night before Indigenous Peoples' Day, an Indigenous-led movement in Ecuador won a major victory.

Read More Show Less
Protesters block the road outside Mansion House in London during an XR climate change protest. Gareth Fuller / PA Images via Getty Images

One week into Extinction Rebellion's planned two weeks of International Rebellion to demand action on the climate crisis, the London police have banned the group from the city.

Read More Show Less