Senate Committee Approves Colo. Native Interior Nominee
A Senate committee approved Deputy Interior Secretary nominee David Bernhardt earlier today.
In a 14-9 vote, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Bernhardt’s nomination, which will be considered on the Senate floor next. Bernhardt was previously the chairman of the natural resources law practice at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.
“I’m thrilled David Bernhardt was approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to become the next Deputy Secretary of the Interior today,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) in a statement following the vote. “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.”
Groups across the West, including the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the Colorado Water Congress and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, had sent Gardner letters in support of Bernhardt’s nomination.
“As a native of Colorado, Mr. Bernhardt is aware of our Tribe’s unique history, particularly the role that meaningful self-determination coupled with prudent energy development has played in achieving economic prosperity for our Tribe, our tribal members, and surrounding communities,” Southern Ute Indian Tribe Chairman Clement Frost wrote in a May letter.
“Given Mr. Bernhardt’s familiarity with our Tribe’s story and his stellar qualifications, we believe that Mr. Bernhardt is well-positioned to help lead the Department of the Interior in a manner that respects the federal trust responsibility to Indian tribes and empowers tribal communities to exercise greater self-determination,” Frost continued.
“From his roots in Western Colorado to his prior service as the Solicitor for the Department of the Interior and in many other capacities, David has been a strong advocate for western water,” the Colorado Water Congress wrote in a letter last month.
“Growing up in Rifle, Colorado, Mr. Bernhardt enjoyed hunting and fishing on national public lands,” the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership wrote in a May letter. “These same lands were also heavily used for oil and gas production, giving him an early perspective about the necessity of balancing the many uses of our national landscapes.”
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine) joined Republicans in supporting Bernhardt’s nomination today.
“I knew all the controversies behind his term there at the time, but he doesn’t seem to be embroiled in any of it.” Manchin told Politico last month.
In May, Gardner introduced Bernhardt to the committee at his confirmation hearing.
“Mr. Bernhardt’s personal background and public and private sector professional experiences prove he is a strong voice for the West and extremely well-qualified for the nomination to be Deputy Secretary,” Gardner said. “He has extensive insight on Western water policy, natural resources policy, and Indian affairs to name a few.”
“Mr. Bernhardt grew up in the oil shale boom and bust and has said that the boom and bust, ‘has made [him] more sensitive to the potential benefits and the potential impacts, both environmental and social,’ Gardner continued.