President Donald Trump’s nominee for deputy secretary of the Interior Department, David Bernhardt, told lawmakers Thursday that the process for evaluating energy infrastructure projects needs to be streamlined.
“If there’s a bad project, we should say it’s a bad project and move on,” said Bernhardt during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “But we need to streamline our systems and we’re prepared to do that and then we’re prepared to manage aggressively as it relates to multiple use.”
Responding to a question from Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) on regulatory reform, Bernhardt affirmed the need to make informed, fact-based decisions, but suggested that the process could be efficient.
“I believe that we need ensure that there’s public participation and input,” Bernhardt said. “I believe that we need to think about alternatives in terms of specific projects and we need to ultimately make very informed decisions, which include the information regarding our required statutes. But I don’t believe we need to do it in the way that we do it. Because we are a country that is suffering from paralysis of analysis, if you will.”
Bernhardt, who currently chairs Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP’s Natural Resources Department, previously held several high level positions at Interior under President George W. Bush, including a stint as the department’s chief legal counsel. If confirmed, Bernhardt will become the No. 2 official at Interior after Secretary Ryan Zinke.