With the resignation of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, environmental and public lands advocates are asking: Will the new leader be any better for the environment than the previous one? And from their perspective, the answer is a resounding, “No.”
David Bernhardt, the current Deputy Interior Secretary, a former oil industry lobbyist, is likely to become Acting Secretary when Zinke leaves at the end of the year. He shares the same types of conflicts of interest his boss does. The Western Values Project (WVP), a pro-public lands group, has documented Bernhardt’s many conflicts, illustrating how his work helps special interest groups — including some of his former clients — in advancing agendas that often undermine protections for public lands and wildlife.