Trump Announces His Pick To Head The Interior Department

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

President Donald Trump nominated David Bernhardt to head the Interior Department, replacing former Secretary Ryan Zinke who left the administration early this year.

“I am pleased to announce that David Bernhardt, Acting Secretary of the Interior, will be nominated as Secretary of the Interior,” Trump tweeted Monday. “David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived, and we look forward to having his nomination officially confirmed!”

Bernhardt, the current acting Interior secretary, enjoyed support from conservative groups and Interior political staffers. Bernhardt will have to be confirmed by the Senate before he can officially take over. (RELATED: The Hunt Is On To Find Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Replacement)

Should he be confirmed, Bernhardt would take over Interior as it goes through a major restructuring and rewrites Obama administration offshore leasing and land management plans that drastically curtailed drilling, grazing and logging.

Bernhardt would also oversee the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s (ANWR) coastal plain to oil and gas exploration. It was a win for Alaskans who favor drilling, but progress on finalizing leasing plans could be delayed because of the government shutdown.

Conservative activists and Republican lawmakers welcomed Bernhardt’s nomination. Many see Bernhardt as a savvy D.C.-insider who can get results without attracting the kind of negative attention Zinke did.

“President Trump has made a great choice in nominating David Bernhardt to be Secretary of the Interior,” Myron Ebell, director of energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“He has done an outstanding job as deputy secretary in implementing the president’s energy agenda. The immense challenges in reforming Interior’s dysfunctional federal land agencies require someone of David’s experience, skills, and dedication,” said Ebell, who served on Trump’s transition team.

Bernhardt said it was a “privilege” to be nominated to head Interior. Environmental activists and Democrats came out against Bernhardt’s nomination.

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