Senators consider ex-oil and gas lobbyist to head Interior

Senators consider ex-oil and gas lobbyist to head Interior
FILE - In this July 26, 2018 file photo, then U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, speaks during the annual state of Colorado energy luncheon sponsored by the Colorado Petroleum council in Denver. At right is former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Bernhardt, President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Interior Department, is promising to cut regulation for businesses without sacrificing environmental interests, if he wins confirmation. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Interior Department is promising to cut regulation for businesses without sacrificing environmental interests if he wins confirmation.

Washington veteran and former oil and gas lobbyist David Bernhardt appeared Thursday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which is considering his nomination. He faced tough questioning from Senate Democrats about whether he suppressed staff warnings about the impact of agency decision-making on endangered species.

Bernhardt has been serving as Interior’s acting secretary since Ryan Zinke’s (ZIN’-keez) resignation in December amid ethics allegations.

Bernhardt told senators he was “working to reduce regulatory burdens without sacrificing environmental outcomes.”

Trump’s emphasis on opening public lands for more oil and gas development is expected to be a focus of the session.