Murkowski: Bernhardt Has the Background, Experience, and Competence to be Secretary of the Interior

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing to consider President Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI), David Bernhardt. The Senate previously confirmed Mr. Bernhardt as Deputy Secretary with bipartisan support in May 2017 and he has served as Acting Secretary since January 2019.

Murkowski opened the hearing by expressing her strong support for Bernhardt’s nomination, recognizing his extensive experience with public lands and natural resource issues.

“Mr. Bernhardt has seen how federal policies impact people’s access to and use of public land, and he recognizes the need to balance conservation with opportunities for economic development,” Murkowski said. “Alaska has more federal land than any other state, and the Department of the Interior controls most of those acres. We often refer to the Department as our “landlord” – not necessarily something we enjoy, but it has been part of our reality there. People in Alaska clearly recognize that the decisions made by the Interior have direct impact on them, their families, and their livelihoods.” 

Murkowski highlighted the significant progress Interior has made in this administration, along with its improved relations.

“When I meet with Alaskans, the prevailing sentiment is that Interior is doing a good job, and that’s a sea change from where we were just a few years ago,” Murkowski said. “I think we’ve gone from that landlord-tenant, ‘can I hang a picture over here’ type of a relationship to one that is based more on a partnership, and I appreciate that a great deal – whether it’s the NPR-A, whether it’s the 1002, whether it’s gaining access for a small community in remote Alaska – we’ve had a better experience in recent years.”

Murkowski also noted there is still important work ahead.

“We need to fully tap into our resource potential and strengthen our mineral security. We need to address the multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog at our land management agencies, particularly the National Park Service. We need forest management reforms to address the growing threat of wildfire. We need to lift decades-old Public Land Orders. We need to do more to address climate change. And we have to account for the territories, which also have a variety of different needs,” Murkowski said. “That’s only a partial list, which is why I intend to move Mr. Bernhardt’s nomination as expeditiously as possible. He is ready for this job and has demonstrated he can handle everything it entails.”     

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video and witness testimony from today’s hearing are available on the committee’s website. Click here and here to view Murkowski’s questions for Mr. Bernhardt.