Energy Firms Have Friend At Trump’s Interior: Their Former Lobbyist

“They’ve spent $30 million lobbying the government since Trump arrived.”

“David Bernhardt, the man in charge of the nation’s public lands, has come through the revolving door of Washington, D.C. lobbying and back out again. Before becoming secretary of the Department of the Interior, he collected nearly $5 million for his firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck as a lobbyist and lawyer from energy clients.

Since he took the new post in July 2017, Bernhardt’s former clients have spent a lot of money trying to influence the Department of Interior. Seventeen of them have coughed up a combined $29.9 million to lobby the Trump administration since January 2017, according to a new report from the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. Of those, 14 lobbied the Department of the Interior. The top spenders include San Diego electric and gas utility Sempra Energy, Norway state-owned oil company Equinor, the oil and gas company Noble Energy, the lobby group Independent Petroleum Association of America, and the water and land development company Cadiz Inc.

“Under Trump, insiders have taken control over virtually every agency, and the Interior Department is one of the far most egregious examples,” says Alan Zibel, research director of Public Citizen’s Corporate Presidency Project and the report’s author. “Under Bernhardt, the Interior Department has appears to have priced access to our nation’s resources at $30 million dollars and counting.””

Rebecca Leber reports for Mother Jones January 16, 2020.