Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 6, 2017

Contact:  Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,

Bernhardt Moves One Step Closer to Confirmation to Top Interior Position

WASHINGTON— The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources today voted to approve the nomination of energy lobbyist David Bernhardt to be Interior Department deputy secretary, despite his years of working to enrich corporations at the expense of the environment.

“The Senate committee just greased the skids for another one of Trump's corporate puppets,” said Randi Spivak, the Center for Biological Diversity's public lands program director. “Bernhardt is a consummate insider who will turn America's public lands into an industrial zone for fracking, mining and drilling, harming wildlife and waters to benefit billionaire corporate polluters.”

Bernhardt has a history of fighting for destructive industries and against federal protections for imperiled species and Americans' public lands and waters. He represented big agriculture, oil and gas, and mining companies. If confirmed by the full Senate, he will oversee the agencies that decide whether to allow mining, fossil fuel and other extractive projects on public lands.

Bernhardt lobbied on behalf of Cobalt International Energy, a company under federal investigation, in favor of bills that would have expanded offshore oil and gas drilling in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest environmental disaster in the nation's history. 

Bernhardt's lobbying firm has a significant financial stake in the Cadiz project, which would pump groundwater from beneath California's fragile desert and sell it to Southern California urban water agencies. Pumping would dry up the springs that feed Mojave National Preserve and Mojave Trails National Monument and harm bighorn sheep, bobcats and other wildlife. His lobbying firm could gain millions of dollars in additional stock if the Interior Department approves the permits necessary for Cadiz to move forward.

“A vote for Bernhardt is a vote for the Koch brothers and big industry and a vote against public lands, people and health,” Spivak said. “Americans and wildlife deserve better.”  

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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