Trump picks former oil lobbyist David Bernhardt to run U.S. Interior Department

They're just gonna drill everything they can while Trump's in power, aren't they.

Donald Trump tweeted on Monday, "David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived, and we look forward to having his nomination officially confirmed!"

David Bernhardt, a former oil industry lobbyist, will be the next head of the U.S. Department of the Interior, assuming Trump has his way.

From the NYT:

While Mr. Zinke had been the public face of some of the largest rollbacks of public-land protections in the nation's history, Mr. Bernhardt was the one quietly pulling the levers to carry them out, opening millions of acres of public land and water to oil, gas and coal companies. He is described by allies and opponents alike as having played a crucial role in advancing what Mr. Trump has described as an "energy dominance" agenda for the country.

"Bernhardt has really been running the show, directing the policy shop in a very strong way," said Mark Squillace, an expert on environmental law at the University of Colorado Law School.

Echoing a frequent critique of Mr. Bernhardt, Mr. Squillace emphasized that the former energy lobbyist and lawyer, if confirmed by the Senate, would have broad authority to shape rules that affect his former clients. "That's my concern with Bernhardt, his ties to industry," Mr. Squillace said.

Mr. Trump has pushed the Interior Department to strip away regulations on the oil industry and open new lands and waters to drilling.

After Mr. Trump ordered Mr. Zinke to open almost the entire United States coastline to offshore drilling, Mr. Bernhardt did the heavy lifting of developing the plan, which Mr. Zinke called "a new path for energy dominance in America." And when the president told the department to weaken safety regulations on offshore drilling equipment, the agency's proposal said its plan "would fortify the administration's objective of facilitating energy dominance" by encouraging domestic oil and gas production.

Bernhardt was a top interior official in the administration of President George W. Bush, and worked for a number of America's largest oil and gas companies after that:

As a partner in the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, he lobbied for the oil companies Cobalt International Energy and Samson Resources. His legal clients have included the Independent Petroleum Association of America and Halliburton Energy Services, the oil- and gas-extraction firm once led by former Vice President Dick Cheney.

PHOTO, at top: David Bernhardt. Photo credit: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.