By Robin Bravender | Arizona Mirror
President Trump on Monday announced that he’ll nominate David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for the Rosemont copper mine in Arizona and George W. Bush administration official, to become the next Interior secretary.
If confirmed by the Senate, Bernhardt will take the reins of the agency that manages 70,000 employees and 500 million acres of federal land — about one-fifth of the land in the United States. He’ll also be tasked with carrying out some of the Trump administration’s most controversial energy and environmental policies.
Bernhardt, 49, has been acting secretary of the department since January. Trump’s first Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, announced his resignation late last year as he faced a flurry of ethics investigations. Trump said he would name a nominee in mid-December, but that nomination lagged until this week.
The president wrote on Twitter Monday, “I am pleased to announce that David Bernhardt, Acting Secretary of the Interior, will be nominated as Secretary of the Interior. David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived, and we look forward to having his nomination officially confirmed!”
Bernhardt, a Colorado native, has been deputy secretary of Interior since July 2017. Prior to that, he was a lawyer and lobbyist in the Denver office of the firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. There, he fought protections for endangered salmon on behalf of California’s Westlands Water District, Bloomberg reported. He also lobbied for Hudbay Minerals, the owner of the proposed Rosemont copper mine near Tucson.
His lobbying history has left him with so many potential conflicts of interest that he carries a small card listing them all, The Washington Post reported.