President Donald Trump announced he will appoint Interim Secretary David Bernhardt to be the permanent Interior secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, he will replace Ryan Zinke, who left service last month after being hounded out by opposition groups who created scandals around him.
Trump announced his decision on Twitter today.
He is an attorney who has been a partner at a Colorado law firm, and began working for the Department of Interior in 2001, serving as the department’s solicitor from 2006 to 2009. He was Deputy Secretary for DOI, when nominated by President Trump in 2017, and sworn into office that August. He’s been in acting Secretary since Jan. 2.
Bernhardt grew up in Rifle, Colo. He became involved in politics at age 16, when he went before the Rifle City Council to request the it not levy taxes on arcade games at the teen center he was starting.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado and his law degree from George Washington University Law School.
“David Bernhardt is an excellent choice to be our next Secretary of the Interior,” Sen. Dan Sullivan said in a press release. “He is a strong advocate for the goal of energy dominance, and will help facilitate Alaska’s role in that goal. During his years of private practice and leadership positions at the Interior Department during both the Trump and Bush Administrations, he has gained a deep understanding of Alaska’s unique land issues – including ANILCA. He has also shown a commitment to the Interior Department’s trust responsibility to Alaska Natives. I believe that Mr. Bernhardt will be a great Secretary of the Interior for my state, and for our country.”