Dept. of Interior Pick Mired in Conflict of Interests

Former Rifle, Colorado resident and longtime oil and gas lobbyist David Bernhardt has been nominated to head the US Department of The Interior, replacing Ryan Zinke. KDNK’s Gavin Dahl spoke to Center for Western Priorities policy director Jesse Prentice-Dunn about Bernhardt’s conflicts of interest and a recent public opinion survey on energy development and conservation.



According to a new report from Western Values Project, Bernhardt has been working on rolling back endangered species protections for the Delta Smelt, a policy change that directly favors his former client, Westlands Water District, according to a breaking New York Times story. Although Bernhardt claims he was allowed to work on the issue after receiving verbal approval from Interior Department lawyers, independent ethics specialists quoted in the story say his working on a policy that would disproportionately benefit a former client is a clear conflict of interest.