Concerned About Lack of Commitment to Clean Air and Water, Tester Opposes Bernhardt to Lead Interior Department

Senator: Bernhardt does not share our Montana values

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester issued the following statement after opposing the nomination of Acting Secretary David Bernhardt to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior:

“Mr. Bernhardt is pushing policies that threaten Montana’s clean air, clean water, and our booming outdoor economy-and as Acting Secretary, he has failed to show understanding of the federal government’s trust and treaty responsibilities to Indian Country. He remains too closely tied to the industry that he will be responsible for regulating. It is clear to me that Mr. Bernhardt does not share our Montana values.”

Following a controversial district court ruling that reinstated oil and gas drilling leases in the Badger-Two Medicine, Bernhardt pulled the Department of the Interior out of efforts to appeal the ruling. This last-minute decision to change course puts sacred, historical land adjacent to the Blackfeet Reservation and Glacier National Park at risk of development.

Despite signing an ethics agreement prior to joining the Department of the Interior in 2017 that prohibited him from participating in events hosted by the energy corporations he represented as a lobbyist, Bernhardt was caught last week scrubbing 260 events from his public calendar with representatives from these industries.

Bernhardt also recently released a proposed budget that gutted funding for the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund, cut back PILT funding for county governments, and slashed construction funding for Montana’s rural water projects by over 90 percent.