Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is one step closer to becoming the next Interior Secretary.
Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources advanced his nomination by a 14-6 vote. These included votes from Democrat Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Martin Heinrich (NM), along with Independent Senator Angus King (I-ME) who caucuses with them.
Next up: a full Senate vote:
“I want to reiterate my deep affection for our public lands and for the mission of Interior. If confirmed, I will tirelessly promote President Trump’s goals…I will do so within the confines of the law…with dedication and integrity,” Bernhardt said during his March 28th nomination hearing.
His full opening statement can be found here.
Radical environmental groups like Sierra Club stereotyped him as a guy dripping in oil money, per usual. Their statement, in part, read like this:
David Bernhardt’s numerous conflicts of interest have been well documented. Before joining Interior as disgraced former secretary Ryan Zinke’s deputy, Bernhardt was a lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry, including dozens of companies with business currently being considered by the department, and has so many conflicts of interest he has to carry a card listing all of them. Bernhardt has reportedly been the driving force behind many of Interior’s plans to sell off America’s public lands and waters to fossil fuels companies.
Wilderness Society tweeted Bernhardt has a track record of “assaulting” public lands.
Senate Democrats played games with his nomination, suggesting he has major conflicts of interest that make him unfit to be the next Interior Secretary—in order to succeed his former boss, Ryan Zinke.
Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) took Senator. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to task over his slanderous comments:
However, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)—the top Democrat in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources—indicated his support for Bernhardt.
“Mr. Bernhardt it is clear you have knowledge and experience to serve as Secretary. You know the Interior Department inside and out and are well-versed on all the issues that come before it,” he said.
Diverse groups have offered their support for Mr. Bernhardt, as well.
“David Bernhardt is a champion of conservation.” — Ducks Unlimited
“David is a hunter, angler & conservationist.” — Delta Waterfowl
“We support Mr. Bernhardt’s to advance pragmatic conservation.” — Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
“We support the nomination of David Bernhardt to be the next Secretary of Interior. Having Mr. Bernhardt at the helm will strengthen the agency’s resolve to make the lands it manages accessible to the recreating public.”— Motorcycle Industry Council
“We have every confidence that as Secretary, Mr. Bernhardt will continue to focus on all the benefits that outdoor recreation affords the American people.” — Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
“RMEF congratulates David Bernhardt on his nomination by President Trump to serve as the nation’s 53rd secretary of the Interior. As deputy and acting secretary, Bernhardt demonstrated significant knowledge of and commitment to the interests of sportsmen and women. We expect under his leadership, the Interior Department’s commitment to improving access to public lands for hunting, fishing, trapping and recreational shooting will continue. RMEF also looks forward to continuing its work with the department on active and multiple-use land management, wildlife corridors and measures to shift management of gray wolves and grizzly bears to state wildlife agencies.” —R. Kyle Weaver, President & CEO of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
“Safari Club International adds its congratulations to David Bernhardt…I personally look forward to working closely with him as a member of the International Wildlife Conservation Council and wish David the best of luck as he enters this new phase in his career.” —SCI President Paul Babaz
As I wrote here at The Resurgent, Bernhardt will continue to advance a true conservation agenda at his agency, if confirmed. Since Republicans control the U.S. Senate, his nomination should easily go through.
Bernhardt isn’t an amateur either. He previously held the Deputy Interior Secretary role prior to becoming Acting Secretary. He also served in the Solicitor role from 2001 to 2009. Prior to working at DOI, Bernhardt was on the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries board. Given his fishing and hunting bonafides, he’s an excellent choice for the role.
It’s important for a sportsman (or woman) with a true conservation agenda and a sustainable, mixed-used approach to natural resources to be at the helms of the Department of Interior.