Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) voted “no” on the Trump Administration's nominee for the Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior, David Bernhardt.
Explaining her opposition Sen. Cantwell said, “Next to the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary is the highest office in the Department of the Interior. It is the job of the Deputy Secretary to look out for the public interest. The Deputy Secretary must be a faithful steward of public lands and the natural resources they hold. He must be a guardian of our national parks and wildlife refuges, the protector of our endangered and threatened species and our wilderness areas, and the trustee for our Indian tribes.
This President, I believe, does not share those values. We have already seen this in his efforts— to undo national monuments, to open up protected areas to exploitation, to abdicate U.S. leadership on the issue of climate change, and undermine our understanding of climate science, and to decimate our national parks by his budget cuts.
I cannot support Mr. Bernhardt, I don’t think he would provide the proper consideration and implementation of public policies that represent interests across the United States of America.”
When asked about the role of climate change science in shaping policy in his confirmation hearing Bernhardt stated, “My task will be to take the science as we find it and put it into the paradigm of the administration’s policy perspective which is, we’re not going to sacrifice jobs for this.” In his response to follow-up Questions for the Record on climate change he responded that he will recommend policy decisions “that are consistent with the Administration’s agenda,” which we saw last week with the President’s announcement of his intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is to weaken American leadership in addressing global climate change.
Sen. Cantwell first voiced concern over Bernhardt’s nomination regarding his record in the private sector working on behalf of clients at the expense of the environment. Sen. Cantwell also raised questions regarding the ethics scandals that plagued the Department of the Interior during Bernhardt’s tenure there under President Bush.
Today, Sen. Cantwell reiterated, “There is nothing wrong with Mr. Bernhardt representing these clients as their lawyer. But giving him the power to adjudicate his former clients’ interests as the Deputy Secretary of the Interior raises serious questions of conflicts of interest.”