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David Bernhardt arrives before testifying during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing on March 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson / Getty Images

The Senate voted to confirm former oil-and-gas lobbyist David Bernhardt as Secretary of the Interior Thursday, despite calls from Democrats and government watchdogs to investigate his past conduct, The New York Times reported.

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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.

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Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt shakes hands with Trump. The U.S. Interior Department via Twitter

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who faces a Senate confirmation hearing Thursday after President Donald Trump nominated him to head Interior permanently, acted to block a report that found that two pesticides "jeopardize the continued existence" of more than 1,200 endangered species, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

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Donald Trump, Mike Pence and acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in Washington, DC on Jan. 21. MANDEL NGAN / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump officially nominated David Bernhardt—a former energy lobbyist environmental groups have described as a "walking conflict of interest"—to officially take over as interior secretary after Ryan Zinke stepped down in December 2018 following various scandals.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. NPS

Hats off to Delta Air Lines. The company's charitable arm awarded the National Park Service an $83,500 grant to help reopen the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta from Jan. 19 through Feb. 3 in honor of Dr. King's legacy.

The Atlanta-based airline was inspired to act after learning that some of the park's sites, including Dr. King's birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Fire Station No. 6 and the visitor center, were closed due to the partial government shutdown, now on its 28th day, according to LinkedIn post from Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian.

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Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt at a meeting regarding the Colorado River on Sept. 27, 2017. Bureau of Reclamation

By Emilie Karrick Surrusco

As 2019 begins, it's out with the old and in with the same old, same old. Scandal-ridden Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released a brief farewell letter Wednesday in red marker. With Zinke's successor not yet named, David Bernhardt becomes acting secretary. The move swaps out one political insider closely aligned with deep-pocketed special interests for another.

Bernhardt, who became deputy secretary of the Department of Interior in August 2017, is "a walking conflict of interest" who served as the Interior Department's top lawyer under George W. Bush—and went on to a lucrative career as a legal adviser for timber companies, mining companies and oil and gas interests. Since returning to the Interior Department under Trump, he has quietly implemented policy decisions that benefit his former corporate polluter clients.

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By Jeff Turrentine

Navy SEALS are known for their incredible endurance and superior ability to get out of tough, high-stakes situations. But ex-SEAL Ryan Zinke, our current secretary of the Interior, likely won't be able to climb, jump, swim or rappel his way out of the ethics mess he's gotten himself into.

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Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

One hundred and fifty conservation groups sent a letter Wednesday urging U.S. senators to oppose the nomination of energy lobbyist David Bernhardt as top deputy in the Interior Department, citing his efforts to enrich corporations at the expense of the environment.

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