Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt faced fiery questions during his senate confirmation hearing Thursday.
Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wasted no time lambasting Bernhardt for his relationship with old clients.
“Your former clients on the oil and gas industry have been caught on tape crowing about how you’re their guy at Interior."
Wyden also accused Bernhardt of quote “meddling with the science.” The Senator was referring to Bernhardt blocking the release of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife report that analyzed the effects of toxic chemicals on wildlife.
Bernhardt insisted that he did nothing wrong and that the report didn’t have a sufficient legal review. In his opening statement, he promised to lead the Interior to a high standard of ethics.
“I know how important and how devastating it is when folks at the top act in an unethical manner,” Bernhardt said. “It affects the department across the board.”
Republican Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado jumped to Bernhardt’s defense.
“This is why good people don’t want to serve this country, because people on this committee and others around this capitol decide they can attack the witnesses and impugn their character.”
Bernhardt’s nomination is expected to pass the Republican-dominated Senate.
Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.
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