The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Don Owens,, (202) 588-7767
Angela Bradbery,, (202) 588-7741

Bernhardt Lets Oil Industry Exploit American Treasures

Statement of Alan Zibel, Research Director, Public Citizen’s Corporate Presidency Project


Note: Today, the U.S. Interior Department finalized plans to allow energy companies to exploit public lands in Utah's Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Earlier this year, Public Citizen released an analysis finding that former clients of Bernhardt have spent nearly $30 million lobbying the federal government since the start of the Trump administration.

This sellout to big oil firms, which comes after the Trump administration slashed the size of the two monuments in late 2017, is more evidence of extremely tight ties between U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and industry.

Millions in spending on lobbying and close personal ties between lobbyists and the Trump Interior Department have proven devastating for America's public lands and an outright bonanza for oil and gas interests. Bernhardt has consistently favored industry over conservation interests and public health. Rather than listen to the millions of Americans who want to preserve these precious national monuments, the Interior Department consistently chooses to sell off our public lands to the highest bidder. Opening these special areas to exploitation threatens cultural and natural resources that never can be replaced.

Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people - not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.

(202) 588-1000