President Donald Trump has nominated David Bernhardt to be the next secretary of Interior to replace Ryan Zinke.
Bernhardt was second-in-command under Zinke and has been acting secretary since Zinke resigned amid ethics complaints.
Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, made for a showy frontman for the department. That was clear from his first day on the job, when he rode a horse to Interior headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C.
Bernhardt, by contrast, is a dark-suited attorney with a sharp mind for natural resource law and policy. He previously worked as a lobbyist, representing several energy companies. He also represented the state of Alaska in 2014 in an unsuccessful lawsuit seeking to conduct seismic testing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Bernhardt is an enthusiastic supporter of oil development on federal lands and waters, including in the Arctic.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva, the Arizona Democrat who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, said putting a former fossil fuels lobbyist in a position to regulate his former clients is “a perfect example of everything wrong with this administration.”
When Bernhardt took the deputy secretary job, he agreed to recuse himself from matters involving more than two dozen of his former clients. That list did not include the state of Alaska, and the recusals expire by early August.
- President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency to get money for a border wall that Congress refused to fund. He plans to divert $3.6 billion from military construction accounts, and that could drain money from Alaska projects.
- Gov. Dunleavy's proposed budget does away with about 25% of K-12 funding and cuts the University of Alaska system’s funding by 41%. Sitka School District's superintendent says, "If implemented, it will decimate public education in Alaska."
- Winter storms and blustery weather buffeting the Bering Sea this month have reduced sea ice coverage by almost 25% since late January. Sea ice in the Bering Sea is typically solid and stable this time of year, but scientists and communities are observing large areas of open water, and where there is ice, much of it is shifting.
- Anchorage resident Katie Van says she was charged undue sales taxes on clothing she bought from outside of Alaska. But LuLaRoe says they fixed their sales tax automation software and already made refunds.