A coal lobbyist was just confirmed as Interior Secretary. Here’s what’s at stake for California.

Apr 11, 2019
By Devin Murphy

Corrupt fossil fuel lobbyist David Bernhardt has been confirmed by the Senate.

You read that right.

The GOP-controlled Senate just confirmed fossil fuel lobbyist David Bernhardt to lead the U.S. Interior Department.

Since serving in the Interior Department, Bernhardt has:

  • Released a budget that slashes $2 billion from the Interior Department and critical funding for conservation programs that protect our parks and outdoor spaces
  • Rushed offshore drilling permits and handouts to the oil and gas industry
  • Proposed regulations that would gut the Endangered Species Act and make it easier for corporations to build pipelines and roads through critical habitats
  • Denied the human-made impacts of our climate crisis 

That’s not it -- it gets worse.

Bernhardt has strong ties to special interests attacking our environment right here in California, and we’re not backing down from fighting these onslaughts.


Recently, Bernhardt bypassed critical environmental regulations to expedite the destructive Cadiz water mining project that would significantly impact the Mojave Desert by removing billions of glasses of precious groundwater necessary for the surrounding ecosystem for sale to the highest bidder.

It’s no surprise that Bernhardt’s former company has already earned 200,000 shares of Cadiz stock for its involvement and will earn another 200,000 if the project is completed.


For years, Bernhardt lobbied for the Westlands Water District, which provides water to powerful agricultural interest groups in California and seeks to weaken the Endangered Species Act to increase its own water supply. His advocacy for Westlands continued after he began his career in government, and he’s used his authority at the Interior Department to make the same provisions he’s lobbied on policy.

Meanwhile, as his confirmation hearings began, his own Inspector General within the Interior Department has been investigating his questionable relationship and conduct with Westland Water District.

If he gets his way and Westlands agenda moves forward, California’s ecosystems and protections will be profoundly impacted.


What’s worse, David Bernhardt refuses to halt the Trump Administration’s dangerous five-year plan to expand offshore oil drilling along our coastline – amid powerful rejection from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

We know you know this, but offshore drilling is devasting for marine life and coastal communities and incredibly unpopular. 69% of Californians oppose any oil drilling along our coastlines, and Governor Newsom and other state leaders have condemned the plan.

Fifty years later, California is still dealing with the effects of the 1969 disastrous Santa Barbara oil spill.

Offshore drilling is dangerous and irresponsible, and it’s clear the only reason David Bernhardt is moving this plan forward is to benefit his former clients: Big Oil and other gas industries who have had unprecedented access and policy making authority under the Interior Department’s purview.


Bernhardt is a walking conflict of interest, and his confirmation is a shameful attack on American democracy.

You can help us fight this right now.

  1. Spread this message with your friends, family and networks on Facebook and Twitter to let them know that our clean water, coastal communities, parks, and natural resources are at risk for future generations if we do not speak out about this right now. 
  2. Contribute now to power our efforts against fossil fuel lobbyist David Bernhardt and the Trump Administration's culture of corruption. 

The stakes of inaction are too high right now. We need you to speak out.

Thank you for being in this fight with us.



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