February 04, 2019

Udall Statement on Nomination of David Bernhardt for Interior Secretary

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, released the following statement after President Donald Trump announced he would nominate David Bernhardt to serve as Secretary of the Interior:

“The Department of the Interior is one of the most important agencies to New Mexico, and the Interior Secretary has a duty to protect our public lands and natural resources while carrying out the stewardship responsibilities entrusted to the department on behalf of the American people. Since Mr. Bernhardt returned to the agency in 2017, the Trump Interior Department has reversed years of bipartisan conservation efforts, stripped protections from our national monuments, avoided meaningful consultation with Tribes, and placed industry profits above all other public interests.

“I have serious concerns regarding Mr. Bernhardt’s record of working almost exclusively for corporations to profit off of America’s natural resources at the high cost of polluting our environment – concerns I also had when he was nominated to serve as deputy secretary. There are many reasons to be skeptical that, as Interior Secretary, Mr. Bernhardt will faithfully pursue the mission of this critical agency to protect and manage our threatened public lands, waters, environment, and wildlife for future generations. We do not need another secretary with a polluters over people agenda—who opens the door to corporate lobbyists and donors while shutting out Native voices, the scientific community, and the American people. On many of the most critical matters facing the Interior Department – from Tribal sovereignty, to conservation and protection of public land, to the fate of endangered wildlife and ecosystems – I fear things could go from bad to worse under new leadership.

“I hope Mr. Bernhardt will surprise us and make a case for changing direction at the Department of Interior. At a minimum he must present – with full transparency before the Senate— his many serious potential conflicts of interest so Congress can properly vet him and carry-out a confirmation process that protects our public lands, natural resources, and the American people.”