Saturday, May 13, 2017

Trump Plan to Turn Public Lands Over to the Oil and Gas Industry Faces Political Backlash

President Trump's plan to put a greater focus on maximizing fossil fuel production from vast expanses of land and sea under federal control is off to a rocky start. Trump's nominee for deputy director of the Interior Department, David Bernhardt, is under fire from conservation and good government groups this week over conflicts of interest stemming from his career as a lobbyist and a past scandal involving scientific documents that watchdogs say were altered to downplay the impacts of oil drilling on a herd of caribou roaming the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a watchdog group representing government workers, has re-released documents implicating Bernhardt in an apparent effort at the Interior Department to skew a scientific report to members of Congress on the Arctic caribou herd in favor of the oil industry back in 2001. PEER director Jeff Ruch said Bernhardt "shares an unfortunate affinity for alternative facts."

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