The ECOreport reposts a response to the Congressional Review of a proposed Deputy Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt’s Potential Conflict Of Interest
Press Release from Mojave Desert Land Trust
Joshua Tree, CA – Today, David Bernhardt underwent congressional review for his nomination as Deputy Interior Secretary, the second ranking official in the Department of the Interior. Despite his prior experience at the Department of the Interior during the Bush administration, Bernhardt has a long history of lobbying against the agency as a partner at the firm Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck. Bernhardt conducted legal work for Cadiz Inc., a company that aims to drain water from an aquifer in the Mojave Trails National Monument for use in coastal communities.
David Bernhardt’s Potential Conflict Of Interest
In the hearing, Bernhardt was questioned by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) about his relationship to Cadiz Inc., whether he played a role in Trump’s Interior transition team, and if he would consider taking a longer period of recusal from financially benefiting from past projects like Cadiz Inc. for longer than a year.
While Bernhardt claimed no involvement in the transition or the Trump administration’s rescinding of previous Bureau of Land Management decisions that prevented the project from continuing pending environmental review, he would not commit to recusing himself from profiting from past projects for his full term as Deputy Interior Secretary. Bernhardt also concluded that, though science will play a role in policy making, ultimately the Department of the Interior is “absolutely going to follow the policy perspective of the President” with respect to issues of climate change.
Overseeing The Issues He Lobbied For
After the hearing, we are even more concerned about the growing threats to public land in the California desert,” commented Danielle Segura, Executive Director, MDLT. “Bernhardt will be overseeing the same issues he lobbied for, and will continue to make money from those projects. His conflict of interest in connection to Cadiz is not only an ethical conflict, it is a conflict between him and the values of those who live in our desert communities. In the face of this direct threat to our land, the people of the Mojave will fight even harder to protect our national monuments.”
The Mojave Desert Land Trust will continue to conduct its Desert Defenders campaign to rally local public support of the national monuments in light of the continued federal threats to their protection.
Photo Credit: David Longly Bernhardt courtesy Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber & Schreck, LLP