For Immediate Release: Apr 11, 2019
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
Senate Confirms Monumentally Bad Pick to Lead Interior
Former Oil and Gas Lobbyist Sets New Low Bar for Regulatory Capture
“The Senate has set a terrible precedent in confirming David Bernhardt as Secretary of the Interior,” said Tim Whitehouse, PEER’s executive director. “Secretary Bernhardt has spent his career working in the shadows to protect corporate profits and undermine good governance.”
“David Bernhardt has a long history of trying to suppress science in order to support drilling, fracking and mining on some of the most ecologically sensitive areas of our country,” said Peter Jenkins, PEER’s senior counsel.
On March 12, PEER released nearly a score of expert assessments of critical unknowns about impacts from oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain that were hidden from public view and not used in the draft environmental review.
PEER has also revealed how Bernhardt presided over the Interior Department’s improper engagement in nonemergency activities during the shutdown, including processing oil and gas drilling permits, preparing environmental analyses for hunting, and performing other tasks that benefited industry and special interests.
“Bernhardt has repeatedly violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) by illegally delegating authority to multiple unconfirmed political appointees,” added Jenkins.
On March 18, PEER released a report, “Bernhardt’s Bad Actors,” that details how Bernhardt is undermining the constitutional advice and consent power of the U.S. Senate. The report notes that 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 FVRA, which allows for acting officials generally for a maximum of 210 days, but only under limited conditions.