Trump nominates Bernhardt to Interior secretary post

US President Donald Trump formally nominated David Bernhardt as secretary of the Interior. Bernhardt has led the department in an acting capacity since Ryan Zinke resigned late last year. His nomination requires the US Senate’s confirmation.

US President Donald Trump formally nominated David Bernhardt as secretary of the Interior. Bernhardt has led the department in an acting capacity since Ryan Zinke resigned late last year (OGJ Online, Dec. 17, 2018). His nomination requires the US Senate’s confirmation.

Leaders of two major oil and gas trade associations applauded the president’s Feb. 4 action. “Bernhardt knows the department well and understands the integral role that [Interior] plays in oil and gas development, both onshore and offshore,” Independent Petroleum Association of America Pres. Barry Russell said.

“As a westerner, Bernhardt is familiar with western lands and how by statute [Interior] manages public lands and waters with multiple use policies that balance conservation, recreational opportunities, job-creating economic activities, and safe, responsible energy development,” Russell said.

National Ocean Industries Association Pres. Randall B. Luthi cited Bernhardt’s additional experience at Interior as deputy secretary and, before that, solicitor as additional evidence of his knowledge about the department and how it works. “His selection as secretary will assure that important energy and conservation policies will not miss a beat in the transition,” said Luthi, who worked at DOI himself before taking NOIA’s helm.

Leaders on the US House Natural Resources Committee took different stands on Bernhardt’s nomination. “Bernhardt spent much of his career lobbying for fossil fuel and agricultural interests, and the president putting him in charge of regulating his former clients is a perfect example of everything wrong with this administration,” said Chairman Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.). “We intend to conduct vigorous oversight of Bernhardt’s industry ties and how they may influence his policy decisions.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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