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Colorado native son wins Cory Gardner’s praise, and vote, for Interior post

Author: Dan Njegomir - June 6, 2017 - Updated: June 7, 2017

David Bernhardt (


When Colorado native and Washington insider David Bernhardt sat for his confirmation hearing last month following his selection by the Trump administration as deputy secretary of the interior, he inevitably drew cheers and jeers. The former from Republicans and energy industry advocates fresh from battling the Obama administration’s eight-year crackdown on fossil fuels; the latter, from Democrats and environmentalists now taking up the fight against the Trump Cabinet’s rollback of that crackdown.

Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Corry Gardner, who fits squarely within the first group, provided Bernhardt’s formal introduction to the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee when the hearing convened. It was a gesture of solidarity not only for a kindred political spirit but also a fellow Coloradan.

Today, the committee voted 14-9 in favor of confirmation; Bernhardt’s nomination now faces a vote by the full Senate. Approval is anticipated given that Republicans hold a narrow majority in the chamber. At least one news report says

Bernhardt, nominated in April to serve as deputy to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, is a career natural-resources lawyer in the nation’s Capital who also previously served in several posts at the Interior Department during the George W. Bush administration. As an attorney in private practice for the Denver-based, national law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, he has represented energy, mining and other industries that regularly cause heartburn for the environmental movement.

As expected, members of the movement attended the committee hearing; perhaps less expected was that they reportedly interrupted committee proceedings repeatedly with their shouts of disapproval.

Gardner’s press office put out a statement following today’s vote:

“I’m thrilled David Bernhardt was approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to become the next Deputy Secretary of the Interior … As a native Coloradan from Rifle, David has a deep understanding of Western land issues, and I’m confident his expertise and experience will serve the Department well. I look forward to continuing to support his nomination as it is taken up on the Senate floor.”

The press release also noted:

Gardner introduced Bernhardt at his confirmation hearing last month, and Bernhardt has expressed support for Gardner’s proposal to move the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters West. Bernhardt’s nomination is supported by several stakeholder groups in Colorado and across the country, including the Colorado River District, Colorado Water Congress, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.