Coalition’s Statement on David Bernhardt’s Confirmation as Interior Secretary
For Immediate Release: 12 April 2019
The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks expressed disappointment and concern over the confirmation of David Bernhardt as Secretary of the Interior. The organization represents over 1,700 members consisting of current, former, and retired National Park Service employees with nearly 40,000 years of experience in protecting and managing America’s most precious and important natural and historic places.
According to Phil Francis, Chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, many of their members have worked with Mr. Bernhardt in his various roles at DOI over the years, and have become familiar with his policy focus, management priorities and relationships beyond the Department. Francis says the overwhelming consensus among park professionals is that Mr. Bernhardt poses a serious threat to the good stewardship of our resources and our heritage.
“We are deeply disappointed that Mr. Bernhardt has been confirmed as the new Secretary of the Interior,” Francis says. “We have repeatedly expressed our concern about his devotion to the energy industry, his troubling policy focus, and his previous record of anti-conservation and anti-park decisions.
Mr. Bernhardt has made it abundantly clear that his priority is not the continued preservation and protection of our national parks and public lands. I fear his confirmation as Secretary will result in the continued attenuation of employee morale, persistent prioritization and loyalty to his former colleagues in the oil and gas industry and ultimately, long-term damage to our national parks.
If President Trump’s terrible FY 2020 budget proposal is any indication of what’s to come, parks will also have fewer employees to deal with large numbers of visitors that continue to enjoy all our national parks have to offer. We need a Secretary of the Interior who will stand up for our national parks and national park service employees, and we do not think that Mr. Bernhardt is the Secretary we need.”
Francis also referenced the Coalition’s objection to Mr. Bernhardt’s decision to use fee collection money to open parks during the shutdown, which has caused long-lasting harm to efforts to decrease the ever-growing maintenance backlog. Mr. Bernhardt’s widely-known conflicts of interest, policies that would weaken efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change, and persistent focus on scaling back protections for endangered species, are equally concerning to those who protect and care for America’s natural and cultural resources.
In recent years, the Coalition has actively opposed efforts by Mr. Bernhardt in numerous issue areas, including his recent efforts to auction an unprecedented number of acres for oil and gas development on federal lands, some very near national parks.
The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks is a reliable, respected, and effective advocate for achievement of the mission and goals of the National Park Service. Recognized as the Voices of Experience, CPANP studies, educates, speaks, and acts for the preservation and protection of the National Park System, and mission-related programs of the National Park Service. CPANP represents over 1,700 current, former, and retired employees and volunteers of the National Park Service, with over 40,000 collective years of stewardship of America’s most precious natural and cultural resources. More information can be found at https://protectnps.org.