Bernhardt, whose past clients include oil companies and others with business before the Interior Department, became the agency's deputy secretary in 2017 and has led the department on an interim basis since former Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned amid ethics scandals in January.More news: Women's Brains May Have a Unique Edge Over Men's
The president now has an acting defense secretary, acting attorney general, acting chief of staff, acting ambassador to the United Nations and acting Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Between 2001 and 2009, he served in various capacities in the Department of the Interior.
"David Bernhardt spent much of his career lobbying for fossil fuel and agricultural interests, and the president putting him in charge of regulating his former clients is a ideal example of everything wrong with this administration".
"Bernhardt got this nomination as a reward for months of work cramming America's natural heritage into a wood chipper", said Kieran Suckling, the executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity advocacy group, one of many environmental organizations condemning Trump's intended nomination.More news: Vicky Kaushal thanks fans for turning ‘How’s the Josh?’ into a phenomenon
Republican lawmakers praised Trump's pick.
Bernhardt's nomination will have to be approved by the Senate. Zinke had been facing multiple investigations into potential ethics violations at the time of his departure. Rather than asking the Senate confirm controversial Acting Attorney General Matthew Whittaker for the job, Trump nominated William Barr, who won high marks as George H.W. Bush's attorney general from 1990-93.
Bernhardt also worked as a lobbyist and lawyer for several oil and gas companies and other interests that sometimes have regulatory matters before the department. Bernhardt recused himself from some of those topics but some of the recusals have expired, opening him up to work on policies that he formerly challenged on behalf of his clients.More news: Apple Will Pay France $571 Million in Back Taxes
Under leadership of Zinke and Bernhardt, the interior department has pushed to open more Alaskan wilderness and offshore waters to oil and gas development.