Trump picks David Bernhardt, former oil lobbyist, to take over Interior Department

Then-Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, foreground, attends the annual state of Colorado energy luncheon in Denver on July 26, 2018.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

President Trump said Monday he is nominating a Washington veteran with lobbying ties to U.S. energy companies to lead the Interior Department.

David Bernhardt, currently the department’s acting head, would replace Ryan Zinke if the Senate approves his nomination. Zinke resigned in December amid ethics investigations.

Trump tweeted Monday that Bernhardt “has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived.”

The Colorado native first served in the department under President George W. Bush. He had been a deputy under Zinke


Bernhardt also worked as a lobbyist and lawyer for several oil and gas companies and other interests that sometimes have regulatory matters before the department.

Republicans say Bernhardt’s revolving-door experience makes him an informed regulator in matters before the agency. Democrats and environmental groups say he’s vulnerable to conflicts of interest.