Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A "swamp monster" peeked over the shoulder of Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt at a Senate hearing on Thursday. (Photo: @DOISwampMonster/Twitter)

Swamp Monsters Crash Hearing as Senators Consider Oil Lobbyist Bernhardt For Interior Dept.

"Dude, we also brought some conflicts of interest just for fun! I know you have a bunch already but...if you need 'em we're right here!"

Jessica Corbett

"Swamp monsters" crashed a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Thursday about David Bernhardt, the former fossil fuel lobbyist President Donald Trump nominated to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior.

At least two hearing attendees donned green monster masks. A newly created Twitter account documented their presence:

The Twitter account also highlighted Bernhardt's history at both the department and as an industry lobbyist. 

Environmental activists raised concerns about Bernhardt even before he was confirmed as the agency's second-in-command in 2017. Late last year, after Ryan Zinke resigned amid a flurry of scandals, Bernhardt assumed the role of acting secretary. In February, Trump nominated Bernhardt to the permanent role.

More than 160 conservation groups came together earlier this week to call on the Senate to reject Bernhardt's nomination.

Martin Hayden, vice president of policy and legislation at Earthjustice, pointed out in a statement on Tuesday that, "as a lobbyist, Bernhardt's client roster reads like a who's who of the worst corporate polluters in the United States, from Taylor Energy to Halliburton."

"To confirm Bernhardt," the Natural Resources Defense Council's John Bowman warned, "is to hand over the future of our public lands, wildlife, waters, and everything they support to a man who made his living for decades attacking all of that to benefit the biggest industrial polluters on the planet."

Other opponents of Bernhardt expressed gratitude for the Swamp Monsters' attendance.

Randi Spivak, the Center for Biological Diversity's public lands director, painted a dire picture of the future of the country's environment should Bernhardt assume his duties on a permanent basis.

"If Bernhardt is confirmed, his contempt for our natural world will become even more entrenched in the Interior Department," said Spivak. "Any senator who votes to confirm him will be culpable."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Chief Urges Global Solidarity on Covid, Climate, and Debt Relief

"The last two years have demonstrated a simple but brutal truth, if we leave anyone behind, in the end, we leave everyone behind," said the secretary-general at the opening of the virtual Davos summit.

Jessica Corbett ·


Sinema's MLK Day Tweet Sparks Online Fury

One group criticized the Democratic senator from Arizona as "the white moderate MLK warned us about."

Andrea Germanos ·


Why Did Democratic AG Kill Flint Water RICO Case?

"Political corruption poisoned Flint and political corruption shielded the wrongdoers from accountability," said one critic following new revelations.

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Counter Cherry-Picked Quotes With MLK's True Legacy

Calling out those who have "weaponized" his words "to justify legislated white supremacy," Rep. Ayanna Pressley said King "was a radical dreamer with a bold vision for revolutionary change."

Jessica Corbett ·


'No Celebration Without Legislation': King Family Leads Voting Rights March

"I will not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father's dream," said Martin Luther King III.

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo