Trump to Nominate David Bernhardt as Next Interior Secretary

BREAKING President Trump Announces a New Interior Secretary

President Donald Trump has announced by tweet that he is nominating the current acting Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, to serve in the role officially.

Bernhardt became the acting secretary of the agency on January 2, replacing Ryan Zinke, who stepped down in mid-December amid a Justice Department investigation looking into whether he used his office for personal gain.

The Senate confirmed Bernhardt as deputy secretary by a vote of 53 in favor and 43 against.

"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.

Bernhardt thanked the President in response to the tweet, calling the nomination "a humbling privilege".

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

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Some media outlets, including Bloomberg and the Washington Post, had reported that Bishop, Northern Utah's representative to the U.S. House, had been under consideration, along with Bernhardt and others. This will include confirmation hearings before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Environmentalists were quick to criticize Trump's decision.

Republicans say Bernhardt's revolving-door experience makes him an informed regulator in matters before the agency.

Critics have said Bernhardt is too close to his former clients who he sometimes represented in cases against the Interior Department.

After his first round at interior, Bernhardt worked at a Washington law and lobbying firm on behalf of mining companies, oil and gas giants, a politically powerful western water agency and other groups that have business before the interior department.

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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