Elizabeth Warren is clearly a fan of Mother Jones magazine. On Thursday, Mother Jones published a piece about David Bernhardt, the second-in-command at the Department of the Interior. Mother Jones called Bernhardt an “ex-oil lobbyist straight out of the swamp.” Warren calls him “the ultimate swamp creature.”
Ryan Zinke isn't the only corrupt official in the Department of the @Interior. Take a look at his second in command: @DOIDepSec & former oil lobbyist David Bernhardt, who Interior watchdogs are calling “the ultimate DC swamp creature.” #EndCorruptionNow https://t.co/IcRHXWnmcX
— Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) October 11, 2018
Bernhardt was confirmed by the Senate in 2017 to take over the number two position in the Department of the Interior, the agency charged with looking after the country’s natural resources. Republicans like Lisa Murkowski and Cory Gardner praised Bernhardt for his “deep understanding” of land rights issues and for his ability to “balance” the demands of conservation with the demands of the economy.
Murkowski said, at the time, “He understands the management of federal lands … and the balance between conservation and development.”
But environmentalists have criticized Bernhardt for his connections to the oil industry and have said he’s rolled back protections against climate change. These are all the same criticisms that Bernhardt’s boss, Ryan Zinke, faces as well.
Bernhardt Played a Role in Some of the Bush Administration’s Controversial Environmental Moves
Back in 2001, shortly after George W Bush took over the presidency, Bernhardt accepted a job as a lawyer for the Interior Department. He eventually rose to become the top lawyer in the department, overseeing a staff of 500. As a lawyer in the department, Bernhardt helped create the legal justifications for some of the Bush administration’s controversial moves. This included the administration’s attempts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and to allow snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park. Bernhardt was also involved in implementing the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Environmentalists have criticized that Act for exempting the fracking industry from certain water regulations.