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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 6, 20175min259
David Bernhardt (doi.gov)

 

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.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 17, 20173min297

Call it a tale of two sound bites.

Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s office sent a press release to the news media this afternoon announcing the junior senator’s scheduled introduction Thursday of Coloradan David Bernhardt at his confirmation hearing for deputy secretary of the interior. It’s a formality and a show of same-state pride and support for a fellow native son in front of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Alongside it but a world apart: a fusillade of denunciations for the same nomination from a host of environmental groups.

As reported today by the Washington Examiner in the ramp-up to the hearing:

More than 100 environmental groups began an eleventh-hour push Wednesday to block President Trump’s pick for Interior Department deputy secretary, an agency veteran from the George W. Bush administration.

The groups sent a letter to all senators asking that they not support the nomination of David Bernhardt ahead of Thursday’s confirmation hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“Bernhardt has been called a ‘walking conflict of interest’ for good reason. He represents everything that’s wrong with the Trump administration and the revolving door of politics,” said Randi Spivak with the Center for Biological Diversity, a national conservation group that signed onto the letter.

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 have the environmental movement on red alert.

He also enjoys hunting, as illustrated in the above photo posted by the Interior Department during his previous stint there.

He is a Rifle native who now lives in suburban Washington, D.C.

The hearing promises to be (another) face-off between the committee’s minority Democrats and the Trump administration. It begins Thursday at 8 a.m. Mountain Time.

Courtesy of Gardner’s office, here’s the link to the live webcast.