President Trump has picked David Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist, to be the Interior Department’s next secretary. Bernhardt, whose past clients include oil companies and others with business before the Interior Department, will lead an agency that oversees about 500 million acres as well as the energy production on that land. It has 70,000 employees in various agencies overseeing federal land, offshore drilling, endangered species and American Indian affairs, among other duties.
As deputy secretary, Bernhardt, worked closely with former, ethically challenged, Secretary Ryan Zinke on his oil and gas leasing agenda and the administration’s push to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He champions the rollback of a number of Endangered Species Act regulations and called the Endangered Species Act an “unnecessary regulatory burden”.
Bernhardt’s lobbying activities have been so widespread that he carries a card with him listing all the recusals he has to make, no doubt with misgivings.
Bernhardt is accused by environmental organisations, appalled at this move by Trump, of pandering to oil, coal, and gas industries. One environmentalist is quoted as saying, ““As an oil and gas lobbyist, Bernhardt pushed to open vast swaths of public lands for drilling and mining. As deputy secretary, he was behind some of the worst policy decisions of Secretary Zinke’s sad tenure, including stripping protections for imperiled wildlife.”
It is sad to comment that this in-your-face example of corruption, pandering to special interests and acting against the interests of American citizens seems to have been normalised. Congress has lost so many of its experts (Republican policy) that it now relies on lobbyists, (who have their own agendas) when it comes to technical knowledge and expertise. The selfish and ruthless are picking at the bones of the United States, while China quietly separates the US from its allies. So much for Making America Great Again – it’s a joke in poor taste.