Chair Grijalva Invites Secretary Bernhardt to Testify by May 15 on Interior Policies and Ethical Concerns, Says Delays No Longer Acceptable

Washington, D.C. - Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today sent a letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt inviting him to testify before the Committee on May 15 on the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) policies and priorities, as well as issues raised by recent revelations regarding the Secretary’s schedule and record-keeping. The letter comes after several months of correspondence and staff-level discussion between the Committee and Bernhardt’s office. 

“Secretary Bernhardt has been running the Interior Department for four months now and it is long past time for him to appear before this Committee,” Grijalva said today. “While a private meeting with the Secretary would have been welcome in January or February or March, it’s time for him to appear before all Members of this Committee. Explaining how he oversees billions of dollars of taxpayer money, as well as his conduct in office, is part of his job and he needs to do it.”

In addition to the unpopularity of the Trump administration’s regulatory rollbacks, Bernhardt faces mounting ethical and legal questions about his undisclosed work for former lobbying clients, as reported by the New York Times and other outlets; his apparently central role in blocking publication of a scientific analysis of pesticide impacts on endangered species; and about discrepancies in his publicly disclosed calendars that have still not been fully investigated.

Among other policy issues demanding immediate clarification, Grijalva pointed to the administration’s mysteriously delayed five-year offshore drilling plan; the risks to climate, public health and environmental quality from the ongoing fossil fuel push; and the administration’s attacks on public lands and Native American sacred sites.

Grijalva is in New Mexico today for a field hearing on the public health and environmental impacts of heavy fossil fuel production in the northern part of the state, where methane plumes from unchecked extraction have become a serious hazard.