Inslee calls for Senate to reject Interior secretary nominee

Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeDemocratic presidential hopefuls react to debate placement Democratic presidential hopefuls react to debate placement The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Biden, Sanders to share stage at first DNC debate MORE (D), who has made climate change the focal point of his presidential campaign, on Thursday called on the Senate to reject acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s nomination to head the department on a permanent basis.

“Let’s not put big oil in charge of the Interior Department. Today’s Senate confirmation hearing shows that oil lobbyist David Bernhardt is dangerous to America’s public lands and waters and can’t be trusted to be our Interior Secretary. Big oil is literally laughing about the access they have to this administration,” Inslee said in a statement.

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“The Senate should reject this deeply flawed nomination and prevent this ethics nightmare.”

Trump formally nominated Bernhardt to lead the agency earlier this month.

His nomination was always expected to face fierce Democratic opposition over his past career as an oil lobbyist and his positions against environmental and wildlife protections. Bernhardt has overseen several initiatives during his time at the Interior Department, including rolling back the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and ramping up efforts to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Thursday pounded Bernhardt during his confirmation hearing with concerns that his past as a lobbyist would lead to conflicts of interest.

“I think you are so conflicted. I think that even if you are confirmed you will have to disqualify yourself from so many matters I don’t know how you will spend your day,” said Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill On The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill Senate passes bipartisan IRS modernization bill MORE (D-Ore.).

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenFive takeaways from first Democratic debate lineup Five takeaways from first Democratic debate lineup Black Economic Alliance official says African-American voters will 'determine who sits in the White House' MORE (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in Feburary called for an Inspector General probe in February into Bernhardt’s reported efforts to further scale back wildlife protections.

However, with a 47-seat minority in the Senate, there is little Democrats can do to block Bernhardt’s confirmation without Republican defections.