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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."


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