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Michael Bennet will oppose Colorado native David Bernhardt’s nomination as Interior secretary

by Jesse Paul as published in The Colorado Sun

The Colorado Democrat’s decision represents a reversal from his prior vote to support Bernhardt for the agency’s No. 2 post


Sen. Michael Bennet

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet will oppose President Donald Trump’s nomination of Colorado native David Bernhardt as Interior secretary.

The decision, announced Thursday, marks a change from the Colorado Democrat’s earlier vote in July 2017 to approve Bernhardt’s selection as the No. 2 job at the Interior Department.

David Bernhardt. (Provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior)

“During his tenure as deputy secretary of the Interior, Mr. Bernhardt has worked to revoke national methane standards, drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and limit input from state and local officials with respect to the oil and gas leasing process in Colorado,” Bennet said in a written statement. “Although I respect David Bernhardt as a Coloradan, I cannot support his nomination to serve as Secretary of the Interior.”

MORE: Colorado native David Bernhardt tapped by Trump to be Interior secretary

Many Democrats and environmental groups have been opposed to Bernhardt’s selection because of his past work as a lawyer and lobbyist on behalf of the oil and gas industry.

Bernhardt is a native of Rifle and worked as an attorney and lobbyist for the high-powered, Denver-based firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

Bernhardt was selected by Trump earlier this month to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who resigned from his post in December amid ethics investigations. Bernhardt has been leading the agency, which oversees the nation’s national parks and vast amounts of public lands, ever since.

Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, also of Colorado, is supportive of Bernhardt’s nomination.

“I’ve known David Bernhardt for many years and have worked closely with him over the last two years to advance Colorado priorities,” Gardner said in a written statement. “As a native Coloradan from the Western Slope, David knows how important public lands are to our state and has a keen understanding of the issues Coloradans face every day.”

Bennet’s decision not to support Bernhardt is notable because he is considering a 2020 presidential bid.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the two-term senator plans to travel to Iowa this month to meet with Democratic activists in the 2020 presidential caucus.

“I think that I’ve got a different set of experiences that the other folks in the race, many of whom are my friends and people that I like,” Bennet told NBC’s Meet the Press over the weekend. “… We’ve got a million people who are going to run, which I think is great. We have to do it. And I think having one more voice in that conversation that’s focused on America’s future I don’t think would hurt.”

7 replies »

  1. Last week, Donald Trump formally nominated former lobbyist David Bernhardt to be the next Secretary of the Interior. This nightmare of a nominee is so laden with industry ties that he has to carry a card listing them all

    Sign the petition to ask the Senate to ask your senators to oppose David Bernhardt’s nomination to Interior Secretary.
    One of his first official moves as the nominee was to propose slashing Endangered Species Act protections currently safeguarding gray wolves. Every wolf in the lower-48 states would lose protections under the Trump/Bernhardt plan. These wolves occupy a mere five percent of their historic range. Their recovery is beginning but it is so very far from being complete. This plan to delist gray wolves is purely political and a troubling sign of what may come if David Bernhardt is confirmed by the Senate
    Add your name to tell the U.S. Senate to vote “NO” on the nomination of former industry lobbyist David Bernhardt to be the next Secretary of the Interior.

    Bernhardt’s preference for industry and politics over science and conservation doesn’t begin or end with wolves. He has worked for years as a lobbyist and lawyer, and now Department of Interior official, attempting to weaken Endangered Species Act protections for the delta smelt at the request of a now-former client.

    David Bernhardt led the effort to upend the bipartisan and widely-supported sage grouse conservation plan, and engineered a radical overhaul of the way the administration carries out the Endangered Species Act that will allow money to be a guiding factor in endangered species listing decisions and make it much more difficult to protect lands needed by imperiled species.

    David Bernhardt has not yet been confirmed and is already involved in at least 15 separate scandals.
    Our endangered plants, fish, and animals need a science-minded, conservationist at the helm of the Department of the Interior, not an industry agent. Please add your name to ask the Senate to vote “NO” on oil lobbyist David Bernhardt.
    Thank you for your commitment to wildlife and wild places.

    Leda Huta
    Executive Director
    Endangered Species Coalition

    Participating Organizations:
    Climate Hawks Vote
    Corporate Accountability
    CREDO Action
    Daily Kos
    Demand Progress
    Endangered Species Coalition
    Greenpeace USA
    Friends of the Earth Action
    People Demanding Action


  2. From PEER ( Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)

    Confirmation for Appointee Subverting Senate’s Advice and Consent Power
    Posted on Mar 18, 2019

    The current nominee for Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, has repeatedly violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act by illegally delegating authority to multiple officials, according to a report issued today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) under the title “Bernhardt’s Bad Actors.” It charges Bernhardt with undermining the constitutional advice and consent power of the U.S. Senate even as he prepares to undergo that same process in coming weeks.

    The Department of the Interior (DOI) now has eight improperly-designated quasi-acting officials in charge of most of its major bureaus. These unconfirmed political appointees manage more than 450 million acres of the public’s frequently-visited national parks, wildlife refuges, monuments, and rangelands, covering almost one-fifth of the nation’s land area.

    The eight DOI political appointees occupy positions in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA), which allows for acting officials, but only under limited conditions, generally for a maximum of 210 days. These eight either never qualified under the FVRA or, even if once were qualified were not appointed by the President, or now have exceeded the time that they could stay if properly appointed. The upshot is a big detour around the requirement of Senate advice and consent before filling those positions.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Suppressed Documents Raise New Questions About Arctic Refuge Development, David Bernhardt
    Corey Himrod | Alaska Wild Mar 14, 2019.

    Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has been driving the Arctic Refuge development process and is an oil and gas ally with a long pattern of putting fossil fuel interests first and sound stewardship of our natural resources a distant second. During his time in the Bush administration, Bernhardt notoriously altered or omitted data to distort Interior Department conclusions about the Arctic Refuge in a bid to advance drilling there. Now, under his direction,
    BLM is covering up valid scientific concerns and allowing outdated and incomplete science to inform the critical decision about whether and how oil and gas development will occur in one of the world’s most iconic landscapes.
    His growing record of deception makes hims completely unfit to serve as America’s chief steward of our public lands and waters.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. From PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)

    Bernhardt Aided Misleading Congress about Oil Drilling Effects in Arctic Refuge
    Posted on May 11, 2017

    David Bernhardt, Trump’s nominee for Interior’s Deputy Secretary, abetted the doctoring of scientific findings about effects of oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in his first stint at Interior, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Bernhardt was the key aide to then-Interior Secretary Gale Norton when her office substantially rewrote official biological assessments to falsely downplay impacts of drilling before she transmitted them to Congress.

    Back in May 2001, Senator Frank Murkowski, then Chair of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, asked Norton for Interior’s official evaluation of the impacts of oil drilling on the Porcupine caribou herd in ANWR. Norton tasked the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) with developing answers. The resulting FWS findings were then rewritten in Norton’s office when Bernhardt, one of the few political staff in her office, served as Counselor to the Secretary and Director of Congressional Affairs.

    Liked by 1 person

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