President Donald J. Trump announced the appointment of David Bernardt Jr. as the secretary of the Interior. He replaces Ryan Zinke who resigned in December. The announcement was made via Twitter.
Bernhardt is described by Think Progress as "a quintessential revolving-door figure in Washington." The liberal news site described a meeting with lobbyists in late 2017 with MGM Resorts International, who had opposed an effort by two tribes to build a casino in Connecticut.
However conservatives and energy developers are praising the appointment because Bernhardt will continue the pro-energy development policies of the Trump administration.
Bernhardt has a lot of experience working for the Department of the Interior or representing clients, including the oil and gambling industry, that had business with the agency.
According to Open Secrets, several tribes, including the Navajo Nation, hired Berhardt's firm as a representative on specific issues.
He was the top lawyer for Interior in the George W. Bush administration in 2006.
Bernhardt told E&E News last year that he is far more familiar with the department's inner workings than was outgoing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at the outset, though their policy preferences are similar. "I can't think of an instance in the past year where I've done something where I would not be very confident that he and I were 100 percent on the same page," Bernhardt told E&E News.
Bernhardt would have to be confirmed by the Senate before taking office.
As the deputy secretary, Bernhardt told tribes that the budget will remain tight. "But at the end of the day for us it’s going to be about how can we best provide the money we have in a way that’s efficient and effective and gets the most bang for its buck."
The Department of Interior is an $11 billion agency.