David Bernhardt, Zinke's deputy secretary, has been the on-the-ground implementor of the Trump Administration’s aggressive ‘energy dominance’ agenda.
While the conduct and policies of Secretary Ryan Zinke continue to be of keen interest in post-election analysis of Trump cabinet officials facing a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, The Wilderness Society expects a drill-everywhere agenda to continue at the Department of the Interior with Zinke’s deputy secretary, David Bernhardt.
The following statement is from Wilderness Society president, Jamie Williams:
"Unfortunately, even if Secretary Zinke is on his way out, the Interior Department remains disturbingly biased in favor of special interests over the health of American communities and the public lands that they love. Deputy Secretary Bernhardt has even deeper ties to polluters and Washington's culture of corruption, and he is embroiled in many of the same investigations that have clouded Secretary Zinke’s tenure.”
Since becoming Deputy Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt has been the on-the-ground implementor of the Trump Administration’s ‘energy dominance’ regime. Under Bernhardt’s tenure, policies for subverting science, the public’s voice and balanced lands policy include:
- Leading efforts across the Department of the Interior to sweep aside environmental protections and severely limit public participation and feedback—deeming them “burdens” on fossil fuel developments.
- Revising historic conservation plans for the greater sage-grouse despite requests from western governors and stakeholders across the country to avoid major changes, and in spite of a finding by the Fish and Wildlife Service that these plans were the basis for finding the grouse no longer warranted listing under the Endangered Species Act.
- Vowing to move ‘pretty quickly’ to lease and develop oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by requiring environmental review be completed in a year, an arbitrary timeframe generally accepted as unreasonable, and, under President Bush, misleading Congress about oil drilling impacts in the Refuge.
- Imposing arbitrary time and page limits on environmental impact statements, which provide the American public the ability to have a say in how lands, waters and wildlife are managed; they are now subject to waivers that only he can grant.
- Striking climate change from the Departmental Manual and three other internal policies, after famously testifying at his confirmation hearing that the President’s policy goals for fossil energy trump climate science.
Track the cumulative array of damaging policies to public lands during the Trump Administration here.
Drew McConville, Senior Managing Director, Government Relations, DC: [email protected]; 202-556-0490
Tony Iallonardo, Director – Communications Strategy, DC: [email protected]; 202-503-8581
The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org.