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tv   Senate Energy Natural Resources Interior Secretary Confirmation Hearing  CSPAN  April 4, 2019 7:49am-10:05am EDT

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[inaudible conversations] >> good morning, everyone could the committee will come to order. we are considering this morning the nomination of mr. david duke to be secretary of the interior. i welcome you back to the committee again. you've been here numerous times. thank you for the visit that we
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had last week. i know that you've had a chance to visit with many of the members. i know they appreciate that time with you as i certainly did. i also want to thank you for all that you have done that the department, for your willingness to serve in a new and higher capacity and for enduring what has become an increasing slog through the nomination process. so thank you for that. senator gardner will introduce mr. bernhardt surety and get his openings they'd meant. also u.n. i want to start off by explaining why i believe david bernhardt is an excellent choice. part of this is background. a colorado native and an avid sports men, mr. bernhardt understands the federal land management decision affects local communities. he seen how federal policies impact people's access to and use of public land and he recognizes the need to balance conservation with opportunities for economic development.
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another part of it is experience. we need experience around here. mr. bernhardt has served as solicitor, deputy secretary of and now is acting secretary of the interior. he's proven his ability to lead the department. these build strong working relationships with those who are affect did by decisions. i believe there's no question he's ready for the job and can handle everything that entails. these are crucial considerations come especially for those of us in the western state. we all know the story around here i talk about a lot. alaska has more land than any other in the department of interior controls most of those acres. back home we often refer to the department as our landlord. not necessarily some name that we enjoy, but it has been a part of our reality. people in alaska clearly
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recognized that the decisions that are made back here have direct impact on them, their families and their livelihoods. but we've seen a change in that relationship with this administration. i think we've gone from that landlord tenant can i hang a picture over here type of a relationship to one that is based more on a working partnership and i appreciate that a great deal. we have seen good progress in the state of alaska with this administration in several different areas whether it be in pra, the 1002, whether it's gaining access for a small community in remote alaska. it's had a good partner there. when i meet with alaskans the prevailing sentiment is interior is doing a good job and that's a change from where we were a few years ago. i think it helps to have some alaskans on your team which i greatly appreciate. you've got job a lash, tara
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sweeney. but i think we also see the reflections led by secretary zinke at the time when you were working so alaska is not alone in seeing the benefits. a lot of people in a lot of states are benefiting from better leadership at the department and that is why mr. bernhardt's nomination is supported by a wide range of stakeholder groups ranging from the alaska federation of natives to ducks unlimited and the safari club. for all the progress that we've made, we know that there's a lot of work ahead. we need to fully tap into our resource potential. we need to strengthen our mineral security, something i talk about a lot here in the committee. we need to address the the multibillion dollars maintenance backlog of land management agency, particularly the national park service. a concern many of us have paid
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rain forest management the public land orders. we need to do more to address climate change and we've got to account for our territories, which clearly have a variety of different been and that's only a partial list here. so will have an opportunity this morning to engage you in further question. for members who have questions here i am here for as long as anybody else wants to be. committee members will have standard opportunity to submit questions for the record. i would ask that these questions be returned today by close of business. mr. bernhardt, want to wrap up by thanking you for your willingness and to continue to serve and take on more responsibilities in the department. i also appreciate the work you did with their committee and internally in the administration hopes of many members advance
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their priorities into law with the recently passed land package that was significant legislation for many of us on a host of different levels and you really helped to facilitate that. so thank you so much for that. this is your third nomination so you know the drill here. you know also that the nomination process has become unfortunately more difficult, perhaps more contentious even for good and well-qualified individuals. but now that my intention is to move quickly to confirm you to this new role as soon as they possibly can. but that, senator manchin, i will turn to you for your opening. >> thank you, madam chairman and thank you mr. bernhardt for your willingness to serve incoming in my office a few times before the committee this morning. i want to welcome your children here today it's nice to have them in the audience and i hope they enjoy this experience. as a former governor of always believed in executive is entitled to deference when selecting his or her team as
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long as the candidates are ethical and qualified. mr. bernhardt is clear you have the knowledge and experience to serve as secretary. you know the interior department inside and out. i have reviewed your experience and qualifications. we matter to qualifications regarding the secretary rohan discussed a variety of issues including concerns regarding offshore drilling, mitigation policies and taxpayer fairness. i would also note that we've might be discussions about the importance of ensuring a culture the department of interior that reflects the highest level of compliance and integrity. your record has been scrutinized the mind of the great amount of responsibility and authority that comes with this job and i think that's only fair. it is not just about compliance with the law in the ethics regulation. it's about a culture of impartiality, fairness and scientific integrity and that starts with you, and example you set for the 70,000 employees --
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that you oversee at the department of interior. these principles are key to ensuring a balance is struck a tree and the environment in the safe and responsible use of our public lands. i would ask you address these issues before the committee and commit to the high standards of ethics not just in a letter of the law, and but truly the spirit of the law. if confirmed to be the guardian of our nations greatest national treasures. a vast network of public lands including our national parks, monuments and historical sites. it's imperative all of our citizens and stakeholders that have interest in the conservation and use of federal lands are able to engage with the department, be recognized for impartiality and access information regarding the department's activities in a timely and transparent manner. i think that's particularly important. whether it be payments to minors for their health care benefits, processing permit for energy
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production on federal lands were ensuring the u.s. geological survey can conduct its critical work of collect them, analyzing data in a changing climate. there's a huge amount of responsibility and diverse jurisdiction. in particular i believe the secretary of interior must prioritize and balance or resource needs with environmental protection and fairness for all public land owners. the american taxpayer. a perfect example of this fissure in the department is working with industry to accelerate production and flaring of methane on public lands. we must also examine ways to update our mining laws to ensure a fair return for taxpayers. so i look forward to more conversations with the agencies in many other matters. i firmly believe that producers and lands that have granted the privilege of doing business unmanaged lands must be what ensemble for leaving those lands and i repeat, and leaving those
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lands in better condition than they found them. i believe it's a realistic expectation shared by most americans that should be met. i also urge you to prioritize the preservation of public lands and protect them for the benefit and enjoyment of our generation and future generations as your agency makes decisions regarding future energy production on federal land and on the outer continental shelf. i believe the taxpayers must be protected from permanent damage to the american people and support hunting, fishing, hiking and many others. after recordation activities in communities across the country. that will require vigilance on your part, sir. they're further confirmed i hope to work with you collaboratively to ensure their protection for public lands are robust and enforced. i'd also like to address the importance of public lands and outdoor recreation in my home state. beautiful west virginia is wild and wonderful. we are home to the new river
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national recreation area in the appalachian forests, cold and national heritage areas, not to mention harpers ferry and so many others. programs like those administered by the department of the interior are key to ensuring a west virginia way of life is preserved for generations to come. that's why i'm a supporter permanent funding for land and water conservation fund. over $240 million have been used to increase access, harpers ferry, national labor among others. in fact the funds pay for every single access along the lower and middle river in west virginia and air in houston over 50,000 people per year to enjoy the beautiful rapids they have. just this year, all w. cf funds help protect the significant battle. a bipartisan program with national support and i must
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admit i am concerned by the administration's lack of support for this program, sir. furthermore the deferred maintenance backlog is another major challenge that i think we both talked about facing you in the department i look forward to hearing more on how you plan to address the growing backlog problems we are facing. today two in your confirmation hearing. you have a great deal of experience. i'm interested in learning more from you today for your plans for the department for you to be confirmed and i look forward to hearing how you would execute their responsibilities in a matter that assures the american people are not just being maintained, but being improved for the benefit of generations to come. i want to thank you again. thank you for being here, sir. >> thank you, senator manchin. i will now turn to senator gardner and would ask that as
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the hometown are home state senator he be allowed the opportunity to introduce mr. bernhardt before the committee and after that i will swear you in and we will proceed. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your remarks. it's my honor to introduce a fellow coloradan and my friend david bernhardt is the nominee to be secretary to national research committee and is very important position for colorado and indeed this country. thank you for being here and bring your beautiful family who i've known for their entire lives. thank you for the opportunity to have them all here today. i appreciate the fact to keep moving up in the agency. it means i don't have to read a speech. i can add more detailed including the fact i believe if our account is right you will become the seventh secretary of interior from the great state of colorado and seven is a special number for the state of colorado said thank you very much for your willingness to serve. i've known you personally and professionally for over two
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decades. your roots are deep upon the plains of colorado in the western slope. we share a lot of common interests in saving small towns. my experience tend to growing up in the agricultural community of yuma in the high plains. mr. bernhardt's formative years were spent in colorado come an area that is a microcosm of the things we sure should utter lands. they began her public service one year apart from each other working for colorado state representative russell george, later becoming the speaker of the house, and. mr. bernhardt worked my wife jamie during the george w. bush administration. mr. bernhardt's personal background in public and private sector experience proves he is a strong voice for the west and extremely well-qualified for the nomination to be secretary. extensive, extensive and some water policy, natural resources policy in indian affairs to name a few. those that have worked from that than for his integrity, wealth knowledge on issues under the interior's jurisdiction.
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2008 after the department which the largest indian settlement in the nations history, personally knowledge workers then solicitor and stated, quote from his effective coordination as well with the local tribal and congressional leaders was essential to the success we celebrate today. more recently worked to accommodate western states request for more flexibility under the greater amendment. john who as a senior policy adviser ran point on the issue for colorado's governor john hickam looper had this to say in december 2018 months to process was completed. david bernhardt is an honest man who puts all his cards on the table and keeps his word. i worked with doi for 25 years and david is one of the finest people i've ever worked with. the ceo of ducks unlimited, an organization that does morrill conservation work on the ground than most of the groups that were conservation and had this to say when the nomination for secretary was announced.
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i've known and worked with david earnhardt for more than a decade and were excited to continue to work with him as the new secretary of the interior. his integrity following the laws beyond reproach. david bernhardt is a champion of conservation in the right person for the job. we urge the senate to simply confirm him. colleagues of his working for their hometown at the time in the house he worked 40 hours a day, eight days a week. i think that was the right math. notably during his office, the house author of the buildup of the designation of the great sand dunes national monument to become a national park. having worked at senior levels in the department of interior over the course of many years their zero question of mr. bernhardt is qualified to do this job. none. no question. along with mr. bernhardt's career is important to fully understand his background in the formation.
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the outskirts located in colorado's western slope. they embody the spirit of public lands more than that found a rifle colorado. this incredible area of our great state to lead this country secretary of interior. growing up in stilton david the western values and interests he brings to the job with hunting, recreation, fishing, cherishing our great outdoors. located in garfield county, an area where 60% of the lands are protected -- federal public lands. a ranching community on the colorado river maintains heritage with tremendous support for outdoor recreation including fishing, hiking, skiing, rock climbing. sits at the edge of the basement, near in colorado with vast amounts of natural gas, energy resources. you grew up in the boom and bust this makes you more sensitive to the potential benefits and impacts both environmental and social. in the 1980s rifle with it the
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oil shale crashing you personally experience the hard times they often face. much like the department of interior self comic community as a product of public lands in western heritage literally located within a few miles of the world's largest laptop out and pay the flat tops wilderness commander in plateau represents a home base in monday's public lands is virtually unmatched access to world-class outdoor experiences which is why you have a passion for these issues. your previous experience of the department of interior allows you to fix the problem colorado for eight years could not be done. as unfixable. as a result revenue to colorado sitting in an account for over a decade was distributed in early 2018. david believes you don't just push problems off of your front porch to someone else. you find a solution to any fixed it. the previous experience includes solicitor for the department coming to be confirmed solicitor by a voice vote for the u.s. senate in 2006.
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earn bipartisan support during the confirmation process as deputy secretary. your integrity and ability are asset to bolster this case for nomination and not distract from it. i hope my colleagues keep this in mind as we conduct this hearing today. i look forward to testimony and i'm a proud coloradan nature here today. thank you. >> thank you very much and also for the little geography lesson on colorado. it was all good for all of us. mr. bernhardt, we ask you to rise. the rules of the committee which apply to all nominees required to be sworn in connection with their testimony is to raise your right hand, please. do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give to the senate committee on energy and natural resources shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? thank you. you may be seated. before you begin your statement i'll ask three questions addressed to each nominee that comes before the committee.
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first is will you be available to appear before this committee and other congressional committees to represent departmental positions and respond to issues of concern to the congress. are you aware of any personal holdings, investments or interest that could cause the two-day conflict or create an appearance of such a conflict should you be confirmed and assumed the office to which you have been nominated by the president? >> no. >> gervin baldridge of assets held in blind trusts? >> no. >> at this point, you may proceed with your opening. i believe you have family. we welcome them to the committee. we are pleased that you are with us even on a school day. we appreciate that and we appreciate your support of your father. without mr. bernhardt, please proceed. >> at kathryn who is in eighth grade and was willing to come today. and william who was excited to
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come today. and my wife is ill, so she wasn't able to be here today, but they are here and it's great. >> wonderful, welcome. >> charla murkowski, senator manchin, members of the committee, good morning. i am humbled to appear here today at the president's nominee for the position of secretary of the interior. it was an honor to be introduced by senator gartner. i deeply appreciate his support. today's hearing is the third time that i've appear before this committee as a nominee for a position within the department of the interior. during my service at the department, both as the deputy and does the solicitor i worked with many of you and your staff. i've met with many of you in person and by phone on various issues that were of concern to
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you and i will always make myself available to your request. for me there are a few duties important to the country as the varied missions of the department of the interior. no one dedicates nearly a decade of their life to any organization unless they fundamentally believe in it. even after holding nearly every single job within the immediate office of the secretary i catch my breath every time i walk into the secretary's office. perhaps you do that when you step onto the senate floor. the reality is that i have spent over 15 years of a 25 year career in public service. most of that time at the department of the interior. in fact, i was recently told that the 52 previous interior secretaries, only oscar chapman, who happens to be another lawyer from colorado who was promoted from undersecretary to secretary
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in 1949 had more experience at the department than the department than i do now sitting before you to be considered for the very same promotion. i have a personal attachment to many of the places entrusted to the department. i know him of the various peer is rich histories and their varied cultures. i appreciate the people who work at the interior choose to do so because they believe in serving the american people first. i treasure working with them. i've done many of them for over 20 years. interior decisions impact livelihoods. the impact community futures and the impact people's very way of life. that reality will not be forgotten on my watch is confirmed. i have had the remarkable good fortune over the course of my curb your to work on many of the most complex issues affecting each of the departments bureaus.
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i have a very clear understanding of the often conflicting legal and policy issues that i will face is confirmed in balancing interiors varied missions. as deputy secretary, the focus has been on organizational improvement and execution within the department. improvement efforts have included aggressively addressing workplace misconduct throughout the department, beginning to fundamentally transform the ethics program across the bureaus and improving our business processes. i have also worked to thoughtfully execute the president's agenda in the department. by issuing a series of executive orders and presidential memorandum, the president has transparently provided us an interior is very clear direction on his priorities. we have moved with dispatch to implement his vision. one of the president's priorities is to ensure a conservation legacy is second only to theodore roosevelt.
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over the last two years we have opened or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on over 380,000 acres of wildlife refuge up more than 30 refuges. at the same time, the bureau of land management restored over 689,000 acres of prime habitat that is vital to many game species. we are also working to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens without sacrificing environmental outcomes. in doing so we are taking action to appropriately respect the regulatory role of the states. through our efforts and honestly also because of congresses utilization of the congressional review act, interiors combined at the regulatory cost savings for fiscal year 2017 and 2018 had a net present value of $3.69 billion. that is quite significant.
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in the last few years we've been in the top two in three and the regulatory efforts across the government. if i receive your consent to this nomination, i will approach issues with an open mind. i will actively seek input and listen to varied views on this to help ensure that the conclusions i draw are well-informed. when making decisions i strive to maintain a long-term view and i often think of the guidance provided by gifford pinchot, president roosevelt conservationist in chief as he laid out his mission for the newly created for a service he said when conflicting interests must be reconciled, the question shall always be a third from a standpoint of the greatest good, of the greatest number and in the long run. this direction rings as true today as it did then. i ask for your consent to the nomination and i thank you for giving me the time.
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>> thank you, mr. bernhardt. appreciate your comments this morning. let's go ahead and begin with a round of questions. i have noted in my opening statement i was reaffirmed by senator manchin as well as senator gartner that in terms of qualification, experience within the interior department, you really come to us with a set of qualifications and again experience that we really seldom see i think is unparalleled in terms of the time and the extent of your background in these areas. so i would begin my question then was something that is not related to the experience, that may be experience of the time you worked within the department. you are not the first nominee who has worked somewhere else in the past and has had refusals as
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a result. but for whatever reason you seem to have outside groups working harder again your nomination than most anybody else we've had in front of us. i'm sure we'll hear some discussion about that here today. so at the outset, i will ask you how you handle or how you will handle aspects and potential conflicts both for yourself and for the department. >> thank you for that question. i believe that public trust is a public responsibility in that maintaining an ethical culture is critical. i personal level i have fully complied with my ethics agreement, the ethics laws in my ethics pledge and i will do so in the future. i have act to lay sought and consulted with the departments designated ethics officials for
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advice on particular matters involving clients and i have implemented an incredibly robust screening process to ensure that i don't with former firm or former clients to participate in particular matters involving specific parties i've recused myself from. i am believe it is also important to recognize the department ethics responsibilities and roll. the department ethics program for years has been subject to a great deal of criticism, a great deal of oversight and a lack of funding. if you look back at old reports, you'll see that the inspector general and the ethics office both asked for additional resources and didn't get them over the last several years. here's the steps that we've taken. we have elevated to deputy --
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the designated agency ethics official backup to directly report in the solicitor, a third ranking person in the department. that was something that earl devaney recommended in the mid-2000 but i implemented, that somehow got the elevated in the prior administration. we have hired extremely good leaders to come in and help lead and butter problems look like an interiors or face an ethics i would suggest you read the recent inspector general's report on philanthropy of the park service was just out for this strategic plan b. i t. points out. she acknowledges in there we are making tremendous efforts in strides in creating a better and more robust program.
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i know -- i know how important and how devastating it is when folks at the top act in an unethical manner. it affects the department across the board and we have implemented a number of things to begin to change that pathway and i'm going to need your help to actually consolidate the ethics programs across the bureaus. >> thank you for that, mr. bernhardt. i think you will find on this committee we have had more occasions unfortunately then we would like to raise the issue of what is happening within the workplace in terms of misconduct and ethics issues and as you point out, the impact then to the agency in terms of the morale, the working environment it must be addressed national park services is unfortunately the agency that time and time
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again comes forward as an area that has to be addressed. and so, whether it is misconduct, major ethical violations come in knowing that you are shiny and a very serious spotlight on mrs. critically, critically important. i'm going to turn to senator manchin. as i understand you are going to do for -- [inaudible] >> a lot of our members have other votes as well. -- >> i think both the chair and senator manchin. mr. bernhardt, you has to come to my office to say that you were the guy who stood up for strong at six in the interior during the george w. bush years in less than 48 hours ago you told me in the bush years you advised julie make donald, a
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notoriously corrupt interior official to clean up her act. ultimately, the inspector general found mcdonald battled with the scientific allusions of fish and wildlife endangered report in the donald had to resign. a few hours after you and i met, i read interior department documents through a freedom of information act request that show within the last two years he blocked the release of a fish and wildlife report with a new analysis of the dangerous effects of toxic chemicals. so, you asked to come to my office to tell me your ethics are unimpeachable, but these brand-new documents i just saw make you sound like just another
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corrupt official. why would you come to my office to lie to me about your ethics? >> well, i'm senator, with all due respect, the news article you're referring to is not even close to the actual. >> ever the documents. >> if you've read those documents -- even in that article, the fish and wildlife service employee that is quoted there since everything is perfectly appropriate. let me tell you what the challenge is when i get a document. i make decisions based on exactly the same standard on
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every single thing that comes to my desk. and here are my standards. have we appropriately dealt with the facts and the information as we see it, the factual question. have we dealt with the parameters of the law that we have that's a legal question. and then there is also at times a policy question. in this particular issue there's no policy, but there is a very significant and important thing. you're dealing with some of the most difficult consultations on the planet. and when i read the documents, my reaction to it was this is really an interesting draft, but it clearly didn't have any legal review. and in our world you can't ignore the law in, put this scheme. you have to have it fit the law and the facts. and so i basically said let's go kick it over to career lawyers, have them look at it. and their assessment was exactly
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like mine. what we decided was that the approach needed to be re-addressed. >> my time is short. just like julie make donald, you battled with the science. you inserted yourself in the scientific process and i would just ask him and not an, for a document to show what i am saying is accurate and what mr. bernhardt is saying is not true that i would ask unanimous consent that documents be put in the record. thank you, madam chair. now, i want to go into this conflict issue a bit more with the remainder of my time. mr. bernhardt, i am not claiming that you are a big oil guy. the big oil lobbyists are making that claim. your former clients in the oil and gas industry have been caught on tape crowing about how you are their guy and interior and i'm thinking back to how
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ryan zinke sat in your seat, said nine times he liked teddy roosevelt, but he left with an enormous ethical son of cloud. i haven't seen any evidence that you ever publicly objected to any of zinke's activities and beaters and inspector general report indicating that you have given the greenlight to some of them. so i'm going to close because my time is now. i think you are so conflicted that if you get confirmed you're going to have one of two choices. one you're going to have to disqualify yourself from so many matters i don't know how you're going to spend your day. or to your going to be making decisions that either directly or indirectly benefit former clients, regularly violating your ethics pledge and her colleagues for whom this is a new matter, i urge you to take a look at the documents that have just come out from the freedom of information act lawsuits because they think they make my
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point. thank you, my chair. >> senator gardner. thank you, mr. chairman. already with the first questions facing attacks impugning the character of our nominees today. you know i understand people will have differences of opinions. i understand people are going to vote no. but to attack the witnesses, this is why good people don't deserve this committee. they decide they can attack witnesses and impunity with her. let me read you a quote from official mimosa fish all you're talking about, senator wyden. the top endangered species official at fish and wildlife service said it was entirely appropriate role. he did not believe the change in direction is politically driven. now you're accusing her witness of unethical, immoral, lying. if you want to get a friend in washington, get a dog peered up at a democratic president said in their making truth to it today. mr. bernhardt, thank you again for being here.
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i started talking about moving the headquarters of the west at the end of the obama administration. the papers mention the groundswell of bipartisan support in our home state of colorado and moving headquarters to colorado more specifically grand junction colorado. if you want a street address i can provide that could grand junction situated mesa county accounting 74% acres are federally managed. 99% of the land is west of the mississippi river. you would think locating headquarters said the agency somewhere in the footprint would simply be common sense. in your testimony you alluded to the trappers lake memo offered by our car her. it stated a number of places of scenic values of such great work that they're rightfully the property of all people. they should be preserved for all time for the people of the nation and the world. trappers lake is unquestionably a candidate for the classification. many places deserving of such protection however many places are managed by the bureau of land management that are literally made for an opportunity for resource
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opportunities, for grazing. others were reeling, for energy. much of it for all of the above. the problem is if you've never lived or visited these areas in the western u.s. you would know that. you may be tempted to trade every public acre as if they should be a wilderness area or some other kind of designation. that's why it's important for the blm to move out west. employees live among the land of the land of magic and more broadly see practical impacts of the management decisions they make. can you provide an update for us in the status of the organization and relocation plans? >> thank you very much for the question. we are developing a business case for moving blm last. but just submitted our budget for 2020, which will -- which contemplates in the last and will be visiting with you and other members of congress to hopefully move west. it's very interesting when i was confirmed as deputy secretary, a
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senate democratic staffer gave me was a job description of the deputy undersecretary that came through a committee hearing. in the very committee hearing in 1936, the members that if you're going to add a deputy, we want you to spend at least half your time in the west. i think with modern technology that is pretty easy for a bureau director to do and as a matter of fact most of them spend their time in the west and their folks can, too. and also adds an element of allowing us to get to places easier. more quickly. shorter flight and frankly the quality of life of our employees will be fantastic, too. there's a lot of reasons to think about it and were trying it. >> thank you, mr. bernhardt. it's unfortunate but not unexpected that the qualities that make you an extra in the are being portrayed by a lawyer who represents clients in a
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compromise in the pockets of industry. if they have been applied to sally jewell, she would've made it out of committee. and i most previously served as one of the nation's premier outdoor recreation committees. that runs the gamut to balance when running the interior department. at the time they were per trade in the process assets that would help a responsibly. sally jewell received 87 votes. jenna schneider was assistant secretary of land and minerals during the obama administration. she came from a law firm. where she handled environment land and natural resource issues. her conflict with admitted to ethics is very similar to substances in yours. at the same time of the schneider's nomination, secretary of interior sally jewell said genesis expertise
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and natural resource energy development will enable us to continue to safely and then the exploration and development under president obama followed the above energy strategy with experience in both the public and private sectors, she will be an advocate for an approach and assigned based decision process that advances the president's key energy initiative and promotes conservation of our federal lands and natural resources. i'm out of time but i think there is an absolute double standard being applied here. private and public experience on one side of the aisle seems to be a benefit. private and public experience on the other side seems to be a detriment. people get sick of the double standards of life. you're more than well-qualified. you don't honestly enable it with every member of this committee. they look past the partisan politics they will see your confirmation is absolutely in
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order. thank you, mr. bernhardt. >> thank you, senator gardner. senator heinrich. >> thank you memantine chair. acting secretary, as you are aware, new mexico is one of the most productive oil and gas states in the nation. however, we also fiercely defend our history and our culture. the greater landscape is one of the most sensitive and important cultural landscapes in the nation and it's imminently threatened by the oil and gas development. they have been working on land for the area appeared after five years we have yet to even see a draft produced. so local residents, tribal leaders in every members and elected officials are all stuck reacting to announcement after announcement of proposed leases in the area. senator udall and i have proposed legislation to promote withdraw the federal minerals in the immediate vicinity of the
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house and i hope this committee will work with us to move that legislation. you would also have the authority to withdraw this area of oil and gas development. this has something to be willing to consider to the process withdrawing around the natural has her part. would you be willing to meet with tribal leaders and other officials to have a strong interest in this area? >> thank you for giving me some time with you yesterday. first off, i would love to go to new mexico and visit the site with you. that would be great to meet with your constituents. more than happy to do that. i do think that the planning process provides an opportunity to include some alternative that would be conservation oriented
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and i'd be happy to work with you and work with those details with you. but it does get out there. let's see the side and then talk about them. >> i appreciate your willingness to come out and see things with your own eyes. i think that's always helpful and certainly something secretary zinke and i had some fairly exciting exchanges here, but once we were able to go out and traveling to a landscape, usually with the horse involved, things got more reasonable for some reason. the administration's budget request for next year i was disappointed to see included almost no funding and that was really despite this enormous groundswell of support of everyone being so excited about finally permanently reauthorizing that program and i really worried that lcwf is one of the most critical tools we have for expanded access the plans.
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for hunting and fishing and other uses as well. we have a lot of public lands that you can't legally access right now. you literally can't get there by any means. we've certainly been very successful using not in new mexico to open up areas to public access. talk to me about why there is no significant funding for this program if sportsmen access on public land are a priority for this department. >> well, let me say first that we applied congress were permanently authorizing a consistent position the department held and we really appreciate that. the budget -- my view of the budget is that it is the beginning of a discussion point to work through. the other thing i think that hampered us a little nro negotiation through the budget process would've been nice if it had been authorized.
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i'm going to fight going into the next year and i'll see where it come out in a bike to work with the entire committee this year to make things with land in the right place. the other thing we have done in our budget is a really invested in the mandatory spending side and set about was a positive. the other thing is overall we have plus 900 million. compared to other agencies we thought pretty well internally and didn't get everything we wanted and will fight hard for that. i think we have a little leverage. the other thing i should let you know, all of you who worked so hard on the lands packages i have taken a process that i use when i was a counselor to the secretary to implement the energy policy act, which was performed at a task force specifically to implement the act quickly and thoroughly and we're applying that task force
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model. i signed a secretarial order yesterday to imply that very task force model to the implementation of the lands package so that we can expeditiously get ahead of all the 120 provisions that you have included in that. >> one of the provisions i would urge you to just take a look at as you are doing that would be the access provisions because there is language in the legislation to provide that. >> there absolutely is. >> thank you. .. with the i have been impressed with the care that you have demonstrated in following the law. to make sure that every step in your service in government you
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are following the standards that are expected of the department and that are compelled by law. i have deep respect for that. it is not always a fun or easy task to be in that role. in every interaction with you and every action that you have undertaken that i have been able to observe afar you have impressed me as an administrator and legal mind and does a citizen who has an unusually compelling commitment to the rule of law" under the policy. i appreciate about that. you're someone who enjoys sportsmanship, outdoor recreational list, wildlife
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groups in many others who advocate aggressively to make sure that they maintain access to public lands for things that they want to use it for. multiple uses are an important part of our public land policy. a lot of these people want to make sure that their interests aren't overlooked and they are taken into account. what would you do as far as adopting specific policies that could help ensure that the voices of those of stakeholders who have great interest in care a lot about our fro federal pubc lands, make sure their voices are heard? >> we have taken one's death last week. i really pushing the question. at the end of the day public access for folks to get out and use and utilize and enjoy the
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lands whether hunting or fishing or backpacking it so critical. i issued an order that says simply, if you are thinking about disposing a piece of land or exchanging a piece of land, before you can do that at all you need to consider the public access benefit of that land so that is treated just like other high priorities in analyzing that property. we have open and continue to open acreage for hunting and fishing, for additional lands, were on a mission where we have taken 12 full-time folks in the wildlife service that are trying to coordinate and make sure we are better hunting and fishing opportunities. there are law and are state laws are carefully constructed to not
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impede each other. we are doing great things of that. the reality is, people love our lands. they enjoy them and the more folks out there -- >> you been nominated to position that involved in a lot of decisions that are controversial. it is also position in which there is a lot that makes people happy. there's not a lot to make the people happy about the federal government they stay. we live in an time when it covers between nine and 11% making it less popular than fidel castro in america. slightly more popular than the influenza virus which is gaining on us. [laughter] one of the things about the federal government that people still like it so makes them happy with the federal government in particular. national park system, they like that. they enjoy it. they want to make sure that they continue to have access to the national parks and that the
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backlog does not interfere with their ability to access it. what kind of things you have in mind to make sure that people will continue to be happy with at least that part of our government? >> the confirmation process is such an interesting opportunity to visit with all of you. almost every member said the same thing to me and i think it gives us a lot of help. i think you have a real opportunity to build on the bipartisan success that you've had with this land package five working with us and together on the restore our parks package. that is something we opposed and we managed about 76000 constructed assets across the park system. i was in acadia, you can actually look through the center
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block building and see the outside. over 54% of her assets portfolio which constructed before 1966 and there is such a need to make a real investment there. i really hopeful that almost . . . . . . i have here of letters of support from colorado stakeholders against associated governments in colorado, colorado for bureau. >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. bernhardt i asked every nominee on the following two questions to begin with, since she became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted request for favors or committed verbal
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or physical harassment of a physical nature? >> no, as a father of a 13-year-old daughter -- >> have you ever face discipline or settlement related to this conduct? >> no. >> in reviewing your testimony we share a commitment to make public walls assessable to the american people and the sovereignty of native american tribes, and a lot of your testimony when into that which i think is very much needed and a harassment policy and to address that you mention the tremendous backlog and we obviously agree on a number of aspects, i wanted to point out to specific things related to hawaii that i would want to ask for your assistance in helping. one is, the okino observatory was completely destroyed during the eruption. we obviously need to rebuild that facility and there are discussions about building it
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outside of the island which actually are active volcanoes so that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. i want to have your commitment that you will listen to the delegation and the stakeholders to put the observatory where the eruption will likely occur? >> i will absolutely look into that. >> lusty things that have common sense. the second, a memorial which had hope you had a chance to visit, there is no foot access. you can imagine the millions of people who are very disappointed including the 2000 or so veterans who planned their visit to hawaii based on going to this memorial in the park service has with the date for reopening the dock on a number of times and i would like to get your support for working with our delegations to give us monthly update on what's going on. why do we keep having to differ
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when the dock is going to be reopened? >> let me tell you a personal fact, my great uncle went down on the uss arizona. i can assure you there is no one in the department of the interior that is more interested in having that problem addressed than i am. we will absolutely give you a monthly update. >> that is great thank you very much. you have frequently been paid to challenge the endangered species act you've been familiar with the endangered species act? you do staring at me. >> i'm certainly familiar with that. >> do you think that act goes too far in protecting species that do not have it economic utility or benefit? >> i have never said that. >> but you don't believe that? >> i have worked with the endangered species act for nearly 30 years and i think the
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act has wonderful goals and wonderful objectives and i think there's ambiguity -- >> most you have ambiguity and how your oriented, i would like to know why your agency is considering changing the species listening decisions to take out language that such decisions should be made without reference to possible economic or such determination. that means that in these decisions you want to be able to consider the economic impact of providing protections to endangered species. isn't that the import of the change that you're contemplating? >> no, under the law -- under the endangered species act when you're making a decision you can only consider five factors. those factors are factors that do not include economics. you cannot consider it for the
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listing decision. the question is, could there be other documentation -- >> yes i know mr. bernhardt, and not supposed to consider what decisions but you are now taking out that precision. -- >> and make him out of the rule, it's in the statue. no one can do that. that would be illegal. it would have to be the five factors in that set. >> i certainly review your proposal much more clearly. i would like to enter into the record september 12, 2018 letter that a number of assigned the expressed concern regarding a number of changes being proposed by your department including a change -- as i mentioned about the economic consideration, a change that would limit the ability of the services of climate change. a rule of change that would
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resend existing blanket protection for certain species. two definitional changes, three definitions in the proposal that would also make it a lot harder to protect endangered species. i would like to have this letter entered into the record. >> without objection. >> thank you. >> mr. bernhardt thank you for being here and putting your name out. i think i know you the most experienced nominee since the 40s. your exchange with my colleagues in which you were so versed in the statue versus the rule and economic issues, reflects the training. they keep her off offering yourself. let me make a plug for my shoes in front of gardner.
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coming to the context here. you and i both know from your experience, the energy information administration, the gulf of mexico federal oil fraction accounts for 17% of total u.s. crude oil production and the offshore gas production is about 5 cents of the total u.s. dry production. more than 45% of the total petroleum on the gulf coast in 51% of the total u.s. gas processing. employing thousands of hard-working americans for many different states. the energy revenue is not only fund the rebuilding of the louisiana coastline but the lw cf which has broad support. i want to know that. regards to revenue sharing, this is my first question, angus king needs to perk up, bidding war and record selling -- setting sail off the coast of new york,
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we've been trying to get revenue sharing for all forms of energy not just oil and gas. but also wins. i would like to expand that. there will be louisiana companies that are played on the platforms for the wind turbines and republicans are about all the above. i got an interest in this. what are your thoughts and expanding offshore revenue sharing for wind energy at stake, and specifically like this to go to coastal resiliency as they are imperiling main, louisiana and nevada coastal state. just to throw that out there. >> thank you, there a lot of discussions and going into innovative ideas for coastal resiliency. that is an area worth examining and thinking about overtime.
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revenue sharing has been an issue that i've dealt with in various contexts in my view is that there is a burden to areas where we ask energy to come from and we need to work and deal with that. >> i will point out, the lw cf really benefits western states. the big block states. it is off my coast benefiting people with no coastline. if we could have something that would benefit most of our nations population on the coast and if we can build a coastal resilience that will limit the damage of the storms that are impacting for example. as i go to my stay, which is trying to rebuild the coastline, the coastline is lost because long ago congress made the decision to channel the mississippi river and we lost a
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settlement that we need flowing through it we channel the river for the benefit of inland ports, not in louisiana but inland ports, but the permitting process is so cumbersome. it may take ten years to fund a project in in the interim the geography is changed so much that the permit is not obsolete because the landscape has changed so much. what do you think permitting efficiency, can we get that says we create coastal efficiency we are not paying consultants, working for resiliency? >> i really appreciate the question. my opening statement i mentioned working on business processes. your respective of what once policy views are, there is a lot we can do better at the department of interior. the me give you an example, with our process, we have done a number of things. i had a career staff ask us, can we have timeline goals.
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it seems reasonable right, he wanted timeline for goal and if you have a deadline you are to the deadline. they were interested in goals. but more importantly what we did, i sat down with the state directors and said i have a process where state director sends a document to washington, it is in washington and it goes through 40 people and that comes to me to the federal register. that process takes a really long time, like a hundred and 99 days, on average. if you are doing that three times, that is like 300 days. we have consolidated the briefing schedule for washington debt to an average of 29 days for blm. if you're on the field and you worked on a project and you got it done it's a good job, it comes up to us and in 29 days is in the federal register. that is a huge thing and also the next two years doing if i'm
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confirmed, is working from the state director on down because there is a lot of stuff in our system that doesn't need to be there without modifying a single environmental standard, we can permit things much more speeding lee as our process. >> your experience is the most experienced nominee since the 40s has been demonstrated in you understand the process and how to make it more efficient for the benefit of those who are trying to conserve and preserve. i think you and i yell back. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. bernhardt. congratulations on the nominations. i know we have met before in your previous hearing. one of the areas i want to focus on is the interior department policy or initiative on the energy dominance dominance policy.
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it appears that the policy extends to oil and gas but not other forms like solar, wind and geothermal. i noted what you been at the department of interior a couple of things severity happen. it impl imply your support moref the fossil fuel industry. repeal the regulation on oil and gas on public lands, rescinded the regulation preventing methane from oil and gas. he rushed to prepare an oil and gas resale in the arctic national refuge. you propose to open the entire coast to outer continental oil and gas development. you feel the oil and gas put in place for the obama administration for the devastating disaster. you opened vast areas that have been protected.
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i guess my question to you, why isn't the department giving the same level of intensity to cleaner forms of development that it is giving to fossil fuel development? can you address that please. >> first off, i should the question. i don't think i can name a policy where we have not created solar wind, equally fairly. -- >> can you explain what you have done to support cleaner energy same as you have done to support oil and gas? >> we have a number of renewable projects that are in our fast 41 process which is an expedited review. we also have aggressively leased
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offshore wind areas. on the east coast. we are moving at about the same pace. the process of improvements that i just talked aso i would realls i just talked about apply to everybody. i'm just honestly not -- i'm happy to look at that and see if the statistics line up. if they do, i'd love to talk to you about it. our position is not that one project should move faster than the other. my position is we shouldn't move them all better and more effectively irrespective of hype. we need to give people an answer and move on. >> i appreciate that and i look forward to working with you. yesterday it was reported on cnn during the government shutdown, under your supervision, drilling permits and 16 leases were approved. two of our former lobbying clients received approval for this application. this is during a time that you
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recalled some but not all furloughed workers who regularly review these applications. it's also my understanding that such supporting staff that contribute to these application reviews, such as those that reviewed details concerning environmental and cultural resources remained furloughed during this period. on february 15th. work on oil and gas development continues and i quote, because the -- were still coming in. there's also safety. we need to keep things safe and going. i'm comfortable about what we did during the lapse. we could do more next time. unquote. i guess my question is, what exactly was the safety component applied to your decision to continue with this oil and gasper mitting during the furloughed and during the government shutdown. >> you know, i really appreciate that question.
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during that time, betsy was permitting offshore vessels. we did that -- those activities throughout the continental shelf. that was the safety issue i was specifically speaking about. the reality is that the department of interior has a very complex budgetary framework. what that means and this becomes important after people miss a couple of paychecks. what that means is there was money to do certain things and not necessarily everything. for example, the park service receives one-year money, other bureaus receive multiyear money. we have money that we are not obligated to spend. fee revenue can be spent right away. i'd be happy to walk you through each of those counts to show you what we did. but i made a decision during the shutdown we were going to put
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people to work. i didn't know how long this was going to take. i can tell you, i had employees that were calling our ethics office to see if they could sell their plasma. i made a decision to put folks to work that i could and that we had resources for. >> i know my time is out. i'll submit the rest of my questions for the record. thank you. thank you. senator, daines, thank you, chair murkowski. you were before this committee last time pertaining to your nomination to be deputy secretary. we talked about the important role you had in balancing the multiple missions of the agency within the department. i very much appreciate the balance that you bring to this very important job. in montana, we say that's the balance between john denver and meryl haggard.
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you've taken good leadership at the department towards that end. in fact, just last week signing a secretarial order facilitating more public access to public lands for hunting and for fishing. by the way, we heard from dr. cassidy earlier, his complaints, gardner and myself. we've got elk hunting in colorado and montana. let the record show that. you also took the allegations of sexual misconduct at the national park service very seriously. you took it head on. protecting employees from work harassment. more specific to my state, you helped to protect an area right outside of yellowstone national park, paradise valley. it's named that for a reason. you protected that from large-scale mining. in fact, we recently enacted the yellowstone gateway protection act, that came through this
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committee with my support with bipartisan support to permanently withdraw these lands from development. but in october 2018, then secretary zinke issued an administrative withdrawal to protect this area for 20 years. you acted in the 20-year protection followed by the legislation that allowed permanent protections. the longest time possible for administrative action. i want to thank you for your leadership in that regard. could you share with this committee the implementation of that withdrawal and why you saw that as an important act to take? >> i really appreciate that. i went to paradise valley. that was my first trip at deputy secretary at the department. i went out there, first it's spectacular. it's location.
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it's absolutely critical. we need to look at these on a case by case basis. we have partnered with fish and game agencies to protect corridors with big game animals. i think it's really important. i was excited to sign that secretary last week. because the way we think about access before we make a decision to transfer exchange a piece of
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property it's so important that very few people. where i grown up, very few people own a nice ranch. they depend on an opportunity to shoot an elk for deer on public land. if you take that away from them, that has a tremendous impact on their social, you know, their love for the out doors and we cannot allow that to happen. >> you know, we pride ourselves, mr. bernhardt in montana. it's a state where you can go to walmart and buy an elk tag over-the-counter and beat a trail head, public lands within 30 minutes with the next generation of hunters here. kids, grandkids and so forth. i want to shift gears and follow-up with what senator heinrich talked about. he was a great partner in moving that forward and getting permanent reauthorization in the united states senate. you understand the value public access to public lands. you understand the importance of
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locally driven conservation. the balances, the needs of landowners. however, the president proposed 2020 budget seems to signal otherwise. it's one of the greatest tools we have to give access to locked up public lands in the west. 70% of our fishing access is in montana, they have been funded through the will will conservation fund. we have 1.5 acres in montana of public lands inaccessible. lwcf helps to build playgrounds in cities and towns. they help multigenerational ranchers stay working their land. helps our local sawmills get a state supply of timber. it's a big deal in montana. we were disappointed. fr frankly, i have to tell you this when i saw the president's budget come out. embarrassing lilo on funding. can i get your view of that program? >> well, first off, let me thank
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you personally. you're the one guy i could call and say can you help push this along. appreciated everybody's support. to hit the permanent reauthorization. i had the good fortune of joining many of you at the signing ceremony. you know, here you guys have worked on this bipartisan effort. maybe the single largest and wide ranging bill passed since the 1970s on these issues. the signing has sort of passed the baton to us to implement. i will work very hard on our budget next year and i want to work with you on the budget this year. i'm a believer in the program. i want to move it forward. >> thank you, mr. bernhardt. >> thank you, senator daines. senator cantwell. >> thank you, madam chair. mr. bernhardt, following on that same theme, i'm disappointed in
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the budget as it relates to the department of interior's part of that program. i'm going to be definitely sending a letter on that today. we worked hard to end fire borrowing. so we want to make sure that the president he is fq 2020 budget proep -- fy 2020 budget proposal doesn't move us forward as it relates to the budget. that you're going to be an advocate of moving forward on the principles that we've passed here in congress to end fire borrowing and make huge investments in the types of fuel reduction and investment we need to see. i appreciate that. we had a chance to meet and visit. i know we have a meeting scheduled. i'd love to talk to you about that issue. from my perspective, we're in a
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little different place that we feel we got the additional 300 million. i'd love to have the discussion with you, understand it and happy to work with you on the issue. we all have a commitment to make sure that we're actively addressing those issues in a proper way. i'd be happy to visit with you. >> do you support what we did in ending fire borrowing and putting resources towards fuel reduction? >> i absolutely support putting resources towards fuel reduction. and in borrowing. >> thank you. >> mr. bernhardt, i wanted to talk to you about the wildlife, the national wildlife refuge and obviously, you have an important role here to play. i want to ask about the coastal range of refuge, one of the greatest concentration of polar bear denden dens across the coa. it would be most impacted by drilling.
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i'm concerned that you're rushing to move forward on this. you know, to drill in the arctic wildlife refuge. my questions are, do you believe the endangered species act add the alaska national interest land conservation act and the national wildlife refuge system act apply to the national wildlife refuge? do those laws apply to the arctic wildlife refuge? >> i wasn't -- certainly, the endangered species act does. and the mammal protection act does and both of those are acts that really protect polar bears. those are the primary acts that we look to when addressing polar bear issues. they both would apply to any activities that happened in the -- >> the esa. >> absolutely the esa. >> okay. a memo was written by dr.
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patrick lemons, chief of marine mammal management, u.s. fish and wildlife service in alaska detailing numerous areas where the interior department does not have enough information about polar bears to determine whether or not the arctic wildlife refuge drilling would harm or kill polar bears or destroy designated critical habitat. are you aware of this memo? >> i'm generally aware of the memo. >> okay. do you believe in the analysis? the interior department apparently shared this memo because they believe the science and some of that information might be being suppressed. do you believe in the analysis conducted by the department's scientists incorporated into that eis? if you don't know the answer, you can answer later. i want to know whether you believe in the science that was part of that. >> so, when we look and spend a lot of time on this, first off you start. there's a ton of studies that were done in the '80s. but more recently, the fish and
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wildlife service completed a comprehensive conservation plan framework in 2015, which really, i think, had over 2500 pages of documents. 57 pages of literature citations. and thaen 2018, i asked the u.s. geological survey to create a summary of anything that was update to that. so i deal confident that our entire record includes everything possible for anwar in terms of things that are available. i think the memo that you're speaking to -- >> can you share that information? can you share with us that information, correspondence or documents so we can see that, too? >> i'll bring it to our meeting. we can talk through it, yeah. of course. >> thank you. i think my concerns here are that i think we're rushing. we had a debate, obviously, my
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viewpoint failed. i didn't think drilling was consistent with the goals of a wildlife refuge. i definitely disagreed on that point. as a steward of our lands, i hope that you're going to use these oversight responsibilities as it relates to managing the wildlife refuge and not ignoring those responsibilities as you look to moving forward. so i'm sure much of this will end up in a big legal dispute. but i think for you to help us by being transparent on how you're meeting the goals of the other relevant acts is relates to managing a wildlife refuge will be very important for people in the united states. so thank you very much. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you senator cantwell. senator mcsally. >> thank you, madam chair. thanks for being here and i appreciate all your leadership on so many issues that matter to arizona. i want to talk a little bit about sexual harassment issues in the national park service.
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unfortunately, grand canyon national park has been ground zero for the issues across the board and national park service in a recent survey. nearly 39% of park service employees say they experience sexual harassment. when i see what's gone on in grand canyon national park over the years, it is atrocious. it sounds like a bunch of frat boys that think they can get away with an environment of t toxicity and harassment and bullying. you're very familiar with this. the grand canyon park superintendent, christine len erts was brought in to clean house. first female ever superintendent. unfortunately, i know a little bit about going into a good 'ol boy network and trying to change the environment. unfortunately, she then came under some allegations last year that she's been completely exonerated from. but now she's resigned.
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i'm really concerned about the message that that sends to the harrsers and the bulliers. that you can derail progress, you can derail a female leader and maybe they need to get back to business as usual. i'm concerned about the grand canyon national park, the culture, the leadership there. across the park service for sure. but specifically, the future of this leader, what's happened to her and what's going to happen to grand canyon national park to make sure people are treated with respect and dignity and serving -- the types of behavior won't be tolerated. leaders won't be pushed away who are trying to change it. >> i really appreciate the question. on a personal side, i was very disappointed that she chose to resign. i know that the deputy director of of the park service was disappointed in that. that's a personal choice. let me tell you what we have done. we have dramatically revised our
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anti-harassment policy. we have hired anti-harassment coordinators. we've reprioritized funding. i have basically required every single bureau to bring me an anti-harassment plan, handed that plan to experts, had the experts go through it, come back to me and tell me what needed to be tweaked and then say, implement it and we're watching you. the i.g., in about a month, will have an evaluation of that. i imagine there will be some people doing better, some people doing worse. that park that you mentioned in particular we're going to have a good person there. look, what i've told the management side is if they don't deal with these issues themselves, i'm dealing with the management. because what really happens is these things get shoved under the -- they're shoved away because they're hard to work with. we've dramatically changed the
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way we handle personnel in the solicitor's office. we're going after that. i cannot have an environment where i have to think that if katie wanted to work -- my daughter wanted to work at the park service, that's threatening. it's unacceptable. >> exactly. >> we're dealing with it. >> i appreciate it. the policies matter and i appreciate you bringing that dpo sbo order. ultimately, this is about leadership. it's about your managers up and down the chain. i think the culture as well and holding people accountable and then making sure that you are training and promoting those who are the right leaders and that you're holding your leadership accountable like you've talked about. i want to follow-up and maybe we need to visit and see what's going on. i'll invite you out. let's do that together. i want to follow-up also on water. water is life in southwestern arizona. i know you have a long and distinguished background in western water issues. we're dealing with a number of them to include the dcp and
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other things. i appreciate this administration's strong commitment to western water through the drought contingency plan, the water memo and common sense regulations. can you discuss plans for the upcoming year and how he'll keep focused on western water issues? >> you know, i'll be candid with you. i think we have the best commissioner for the bureau of reclamation in history. >> i agree. >> so i don't have to worry when i go to bed at night at interior. i don't worry a lot about water because brenda has it under control. i think brenda berman is the commissioner. i think she's doing a tremendous job. our assistant secretary, tim petty, water and science is doing a tremendous job. i think we have a great team. we've added kyle weaver. we're firing on all -- there. my job with with brenda is to stay out of her way. >> an arizonan, i will note.
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thank you, senator. senator king? >> thank you, madam chair. first, mr. secretary designate, i want to thank you for coming to maine last week, for visiting acadia national park, a beautiful place any time of year for discussing the future of the monument for the commitment that you made to work with us on solidifying the future of at that monument and the budgetary -- the funds in the budget. i appreciate that. >> well, thank you very much. you know, i really want to make sure that we move promptly, get that plan in place and if i was -- what i've -- acadia is fantastic. i really enjoyed the opportunity there. maybe we'll go to ka at that time an. we ought to get there as quickly as we can. >> as i understand it, we get that management plan done, we're owe. >> you're rock sol ild today. the park service is there.
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yo you're part of the park service. >> thank you. i think you said this. but i want to nail it down on the record. you and the administration are going to help us and support us and push on the restoring parks act? >> absolutely. >> i do have a suggestion, i made this before in this committee that we fund the restore parks act alphabetically. [ laughter ] >> by state or -- >> no no, by park. acadia. sorry about zion. anyway. more serious question about offshore drilling. as you know, the former secretary created quite a stir a little over a year ago talking about all the coasts will be open to offshore drilling. there was dispute about florida. here's my concern. noaa is moving regulatory changes that it appears, they're talking about a streamline. we don't know what they're going to say. it could limit state's abilities to affect the decisions through
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the coastal zone management act. boem is part of that process. can you comment on your view of the state's role through the coastal zone management or just generally in this process? >> i can't -- i'd be happy to look at it and get back to you on the noaa issue. i'm not familiar with that. i'm sorry. i can comment on our planning process. and our planning process involves extensive input from the states. as a matter of fact, it has supposition notification provisions for when we talk to states. i can assure you that, you know, we listen to states. so we'll have a lot of dialog with them. >> our state of maine, i can tell you we've got a governor, legislature and a bipartisan congressional delegation that
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is, as you choose your term, rock solid, against offshore drilling or testing. so here's the dilemma i have. we're talking aboyour confirmat. if a member of the new england delegation votes for you and you move for offshore drilling, i don't know if i can go home again. >> i completely appreciate that. the dynamic i have here is the president issued a very clear executive order. that order says do a review and then it says give full consideration to including sales on an annual basis in each planning area. so we're at the very beginning of our process. we went out with the draft, we need to go out with a new proposal and -- >> i'm worried about the timing. this all started a year ago and we were told there would be a draft last fall. we still haven't seen it. >> well, to be very clear with
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you, i'll say i don't know what the timing is. because it's not done to a point where they've wanted to bring it to me yet. i don't have it yet. i don't think it's going to happen immediately. i'm happy to work with people to figure it out for you. >> do you think the position of the state, as expressed through their elected leadership, will be of significant consideration. >> there's three factors to look at under the law. that is one big one. the entire planning process is supposed to do this. start out big and winnow down to an area that we have for our five-year plan. we're at like step one. not step 7. we have to work through that process. >> can i get your personal assurance here today that the position of the state is congressional delegation will be a major consideration in making this decision? >> absolutely. it's required. >> thank you madam chair. >> thank you, senator king. senator alexander.
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>> thank you, madam chair. mr. bernhardt, you seem to be surviving your confirmation hearing pretty well. i noticed a question about treatment or different forms of energy. i wonder this, i noticed that the department fined the exxon corporation $7,000 for migratory birds that were killed by exposure to hydrocarbons in the midwest. i wonder if the $7,000 a bird for migratory birds killed by wind turbines which could be also described as cuisinarts in the sky. >> yeah. >> are you applying an equal treatment for bird kill by windmills? >> they are certainly being applied equally today. >> let me ask you a few questions about continuity. secretary zinke was a good
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friend of the great smoky mountain national park which is your most visited park. it's up to 11.5 million visitors a year. partly because of the opening of the foothills parkway. i'm going to mention three quick items that i don't need to have much discussion with you on and mention the restore our parks act. one is the foothills parkway, which you and i discussed. it's produced, i think, one of the most, if not the most beautiful drive in the eastern united states along the edge of the smokies. 33.5-mile right-of-way which the state gave to the federal government, the park service years ago. and we're exploring with local communities and the state and the conservation fund and the smoky mountain park service ways to use that right-of-way for mountain bike trails or hiking trails while we're seeing whether the road will be built. a lot of enthusiasm for that. i want to make sure that
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secretary zinke knows about it, he's visited it. i want to make sure that you will continue to be aware of it and interested in it as we work with the park service and the conservation fund. >> i can promise you, we won't lose a step. >> good. thank you. when secretary zinke visited the park and this gets to the maintenance issue that senator king talked about. he visited the look rock campground up on a mountain and said that he would provide $2 million to open it. it's been closed five years for thousands of families who camp and visit there. i hope you will check on the progress toward fixing the bathrooms so the park can be reopened. >> i'll look into it. >> i appreciate that. now, third, on the restore our parks act, that has an extraordinary amount of support.
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35 senate co-sponsors on the new bill this year. they were all in agreement approximate it. the chairman, ranking member have moved it along through the committee last year. strong support in the house. the president supporting it. office of management and budget. you and secretary zinke did -- it has the opportunity to be the most important piece of legislation to help our national park system, at least since the 1960s because it has the capacity to cut in half the maintenance backlog at the smokies and the other 416 or 17 parks. so my question for you is, are you going to continue to push the restore our parks act and what can we do and what can you do to make sure that this becomes a law? there's not many issues before the congress today that have
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such broad bipartisan and popular support. >> well, that's a wonderful point. each of my individual meetings, that bill came up. i think that's a good sign that there is really you're right, there's a lot of support for it. so i think we need to figure out how to build on that and maybe talk to the house. i'm happy to row as hard as i can. >> i hope you will. i hope you will continue to work with the sponsors of the bill, senators port man, sandra king, senator warner, i and others. senator cantwell as we try to schedule its passage in the senate. it may have something to do with the water conservation fund at the same time. i'd like to keep it at the top of the list. >> thank you, senator alexander.
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a priority around here. we appreciate you raising. >> senator manchin. >> i wanted to wait until the end. make sure my colleagues got their questions in. mr. bernhardt, change is a priority. my focus working with the chairman and the staff, i'm seeking pragmatic solutions for the energy mitigation on public lands. at your confirmation hearing two years ago, you testified we would take the science as we find it, whatever it is. then you added, you believe that you should take the science and put it in the paradigm in policy perspective. i know you're put in a tough position on this. is that still your view and while you're willing to look at the science, are you able to push back if the administration is going against the science that's been produced and you feel like you can have input with our help? >> first off, i really appreciate that question. here's the one thing i can
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assure you. i'm not a wall flower. if i got a view, they're going to hear it. here's where i am. i recognize that climate is changing and man is contributing to that. even if you look at the fourth assessment, what you'll see -- this is what our scientists tell us. what you'll see is the largest uncertainty about projecting future climate is projecting future climate conditions that the largest uncertainty is what the level is going to be going forward. it's based on a number of things. economics, technology, political structures, demographics. those are all really difficult for folks to predict. so what our scientists have told us is when we're making a decision. we have to be really spot-on on this. if i look at the prior administration, every day, even today, we lost a climate case, a
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case regarding how we analyzed climate, we need to recognize that there's -- what our scientists say, recognize there's no one single model or one single scenario that's right. it's best to use these multiple models, think it through, multiple scenarios. and then look at that range of possibilities and then make your decision in accordance with -- >> i'm sorry. i'm going to move on. no problem at all. i come from west virginia. i have a lot of deniers in my state. i have a lot of people saying we need to do something. we can do something basically. i'm not for eliminating.novatii. not just north america, u.s. climate. we've got to address this. we do it in a pragmatic way. alaska and virginia being heavy lifters. we've got to step to the plate. with that being said, quickly, they talked about offshore. here's what befuddles me. we have 6% of the kopt nenl
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shelf available for leasing. the proposal you are recommending is one that's a 90% under the direction of the administration. the only thing i can see is they want to basically be able to export. our demand and consumption does not pair up with this at all. i think that senator king is showing a little bit. there's nobody on any coast that wants you to start drilling, not one governor that i know of. not one congress person or senator, democrat or republican. we don't have a need for it because basically, the growth we've had, the eia states that local 48 on shore production continues to be the main source of growth. we're up to producing 11.9 million barrels a day as of february 2019. they're saying that predict the u.s. crude oil continues to set annual records through 2027 and remains greater than 14 million barrels a day through 2040.
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but yet the companies want to continue to go out and punch holes in the most drastic weather changes we've had which is the atlantic coast. we're asking, sir, please work with the governors, being a former governor, we have to answer to every one of our constituents every day. to all of our senators and congress people, this is really, really serious for all of us. >> i appreciate that, sir. i commit to working with the governors on it. we're at the beginning of the process. i don't think secretary zinke ever thought that the entire 90 -- everywhere would be ultimately leased. it would be winnowed down. i don't think he was thinking that. we'll work with you. >> a couple, madam chair, if you allow me. aml, they've done so many good things. we must leave the land better than we started. aml, we don't have anything in the western. they do rock mining, they do hard rock mining, they just
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leave it helter skelter. that's got to stop. they have got to -- we've got to be good stewards and make them responsible. aml is supposed to run out in 2021. i want to make sure you feel strongly enough about that to support continuation of aml fund. >> behl work with you on that. >> you deserve a right to explain. a lot of my colleagues about recusal. your recusal. i think you've been under recusal, it runs off this august. you might want to explain your thought process on recusal, how it affects your job and things of this sort. what do you think needs to be done there? they've been asking me to ask you, would you continue your recusal since you've had so many of your clients are going to be working directly with this agency? >> i really appreciate that question. and i've had time to think about
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that question since we visited a little bit earlier in the week. my perspective is that, in the 1990s, the office of government ethics came up with the idea of a one-year period from the day you entered government to when you entered public service to ensure that there was no bias for your dealings on particular matters involving specific parties for that year. just to take away the a appearance of impropriety or appearance of bias. bias can go either way. obviously, the prior administration extended that for certain things to two years. some things were one year. but some things were two. and the president kept it at two as well. and so i'm now at the point where in a few months these recusals will run out for some things. some things they've runoff
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already. when i think about this, one of the things i really think about is that i have a very particular skill set, strength, creativity, judgment that i'm basically handcuffed and no the game for the american people if i'm not -- if i am recusing myself. i don't think that's the best strategy. my view is follow that responsibility through the period of time and then get in and be on the american team. and win for the american team. i'm actually pretty good at going up against these guys and i don't have any problem with doing that. i would say you want your a-quarterback playing for your team. >> thank you, madam chairman thank you for the indulgence. >> thank you, senator manchin. let's turn to senator barrasso. >> mr. bernhardt, congratulations on your nomination. i appreciated the opportunity to meet with you earlier this week to discuss your vision for the department under your
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leadership. you've been instrumental in developing many important policies at interior. you've been a champion of american energy dominance. simplifying complex reviews that have caused analysis, paralysis prior to that. you've developed policy that recognizes the need for responsible multiple use of our nation's public lands. i really look forward to more of in good work on your part and interior's department in the future. in terms of communicating with congress and the states during your nomination hearing for the current job you have in 2017, you emphasized your desire to work with stakeholders in developing policies, specifically identifying states and local communities as partners. over the last couple of weeks, interior has taken a number of actions that directly impact the way that states and state land managers will work with interior and other agencies. so should you be confirmed, how are you going to make sure that you're communicating
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consistently with your state partners who are going to help you develop policies to address the real on the ground needs? >> well, i am reaching out to all of the governors. i visited with all of them. the one thing i will tell you, there's not a thing going out under my name going forward that folks don't know about before it goes out. >> you know, the department issued several critical pieces of guidance and rules that improve the management of federal land. there's discretion afforded to on the groundman jers who implement the policies to make sure they're effective at the state and local levels. how will you communicate with directors and field office staffers. there's no blm confirmed director now. to ensure that they clearly understand the intechbt washington office? >> one of the things i've done is i've gone to the state director's offices themselves.
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i've been to wyoming's and told them what i thought our policies should be. and if we have a field office that's out of the area, i'll have a discussion with them. i have no problem engaging directly to explain clearly where we need to go. we're working with the governor with innovative idea, i think, that would allow the state to play a bigger role and facilitate a more streamlined process. >> former secretary zinke made commitments to me, to a number of other members of the house and the senate to take administrative action to lower the royalty rate on soda ash. the proposed rule hasn't moved forward yet. so our natural soda ash producers continue to be undercut by cheap chinese synthetics and continue to hope that the commitment from the previous secretary will be realized. will you commit to take the necessary actions to lower the
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soda ash royalty rate? >> i'm working on that proposed rule as we speak. >> i want to talk about some court decisions that are out there. decisions made by interior are no stranger to the courtroom. last october a court reinstated the threatened status of the grizzly bear in the greater yellowstone ecosystem under the endangered species act. last week the d.c. district court ruled that the bureau of land management didn't adequately consider greenhouse gas emissions. the district court of colorado issued a similar decision just yesterday. also yesterday, a case was filed in the district court in idaho challenging the contents of the sage grouse records of decision and plan amendments. alleging violations. these cases considered different questions, they do represent areas where courts have historically been divided. as secretary, how do you plan to develop durable policy in a time
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where litigation seems to be the first response? >> well, you know, ideally, you would say that greater collaboration leads to less litigation. and that's really what you think. but our numbers don't necessarily show that. if you go back and look at the number of protests and you go back to, like, the '90s and through. we're now at about 88% protest for that. we need to think about those types of things. i've spent -- i had the attorneys do an analysis a couple days ago to explain to me how much money we've lost in lawyer fees for climate cases that we lost in the prior administration and we're approaching a million bucks in fees. so we have to do a really good job of articulating what we're doing and how we're doing it and recognize where the courts are
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so that we can beat it. the reality, the sage grouse case you mentioned today actually it's a challenge that was filed to the 2015 plan in 2016. they've gone in and amended their complaint. they didn't like the prior administration's plan, they don't like our plan, which i think tells you where you're going to end up in those types of things. >> thank you, madam chairman. >> thank you senator barrasso. we're going to turn to senator hoeven, but i understand senator lee you would like a moment. >> i would like to offer a letter signed by scott de la vega who is the department of the interior's director of its office of ethics compliance. mr. de la vega prepared an exhaustive report, quite lengthy, led by a four-page letter in which he explains and concludes that the acting
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secretary's conduct has complied with all applicable laws, regulations, ethical rules and other legal material that might be binding here. this is in response to a letter received from senators warren and blumenthal. i've reviewed this and conclude that it confirms what i know about in top quality nominee who i know to be a man of upstanding character. i offer that for the record. >> thank you, senator lee. that entire report will be included as part of the committee record. we thank you for your review and its introduction. senator hoeven. >> thank you madam chair and thanks for holding the hearing. secretary bernhardt thanks for being here and visiting with me both now and previously and for your service. we appreciate it very much. we have blm land, we have national park, we have large native population. we'd like you to come to north
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dakota so my first question is would you come out to our great and beautiful state for a visit? >> absolutely. >> thank you. look forward to that. >> preferably during pheasant season. >> exactly. it's phenomenal. just phenomenal. i'm working on some legislation regarding mineral species. as you know, incredible energy development out there. we need to work on blm lands on the permitting process. there's a number of ways to do it. you've got tremendous people out there that we've worked with. but making sure that they have adequate resources. they've come up with innovative idea, too. they're tremendous. but we need to make sure they have adequate resources in the field offices and then we need legislation in cases where you don't have any surface ownership. just mineral ownership. we have legislation to do that that would expedite the permitting process in a sound, environmentally responsible way.
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i'd ask if you'd be willing to work with me on that? >> i sure would. it lines up with exactly what we're trying to do, senator. >> good. deferred maintenance backlog in the park, theodore roosevelt national park, as you know you're working on a presidential library. we've talked about that. we ask one, you're willing to help us with that. teddy roosevelt spent a lot of time out there. incredible, beautiful bad lands. just amazing. not only that project, but the other is the deferred maintenance backlog. we're working with lamar alexander and others to address the deferred maintenance in our national parks. really critical. i know you support it. but we'd like you on the record on both issues. >> we are absolutely behind that. it's part of our budget. we'll work with you on it. >> i believe we have a chance to get it. it's so important for our national parks. also, i chair the indiana fairs committee and would ask that you come to our committee and
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testify. are you willing to do that? >> of course, sir. >> okay. one of the pieces of legislation we passed recently is the tribal energy resource act. it gives tribes more control on their reservations over energy development, how they do it, traditional, renewable, whatever it is they want to do. determination. please talk about how you can interact with them on that issue, please. >> well, we -- i'm familiar with that legislation. and i think that it really is the logical next step to self-determination. we want to work with the tribes that are interested in utilizing that authority. we would really like to work and have successes with them. i think it lines up policywise spot-on with where the administration is and we'd like to work with tribes that are interested in that to see if we can have successes. >> i mean, it really does.
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it's about jobs, it's about opportunity. you know, it's about self-determination. all things that i think are very good in terms of working with our native population. >> absolutely. >> last area, i just recently had a field hearing in bismarck. and we have five reservations in our state. some we share with south dakota. we have more tribes than that. we had tremendous representation from the tribal councils and the state leaders and the governor, our delegation and so forth. one of the things we really focused on was more law enforcement, particularly bia law enforcement agents on the reservation to help with safety. you know, protecting women and children and some of the -- but you know, across the board, greater safety on the reservation and it really came to the fore of the need for more
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law enforcement officers. particularly bia law enforcement officers. and as we listened to, like i say, tribal leaders testify, as well as the bia, they said you can recruit somebody from your geographic region, not only are you more likely to convince them to go into law enforcement but they're more likely to come and stay and continue because they're from the area. so one of the things we need is more training centers or more opportunity to have training centers around the country and for example our state would put resources into it. and that would reduce the federal cost to train the law enforcement officers. so not only would we be able to recruit more, we'd retain them and it would cost less in terms of the federal cost. so this is something we need to
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do. i know the administration has initiatives in this area particularly addressing violence against women and children on the reservation. >> that's right. >> plays right into that as well as legislation we're tying to pass to provide more resources in this area. it's a big subject but it can have an impact on indienindian country. >> our secretary for indian affairs is completely focused on the missing and exploited category. we're working like crazy on this. what you're bringing up with this training i think is a great idea. i went back to the office after he visited a little bit and thought we can also get some justice money involved, i bet too. so we could bring together an interaction of folks. because if we can keep law enforcement in an area, if we can recruit them, train them and keep them in that area, we'd be
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much better off than where we recruit folks. they come in for training for a few years and they go to some other area because they're just not familiar with the area. >> i was very encouraged when you came in the other day and talked about wanting to take a leadership role in this area. i know for our chairman this is a priority, something she's worked on and is working on right now. it's not only the legislation that she's working on. it's bringing more resources through the survive act. it's the law enforcement piece. for the administration's initiative and for you to be willing to take a lead role in this, i think you can really have an impact. >> we're really pushing it and i think tara's done a great job and i think we have a real opportunity to do something in this space that's unique. so i want to work with you on that and you. >> thank you. appreciate it. >> thank you, senator. i appreciate you bringing that up because that is a significant
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issue. i've had a level of engagement with the assistant secretary as well and i'm very encouraged by the focus coming out of the administration and working with us on these matters. long pastime to address them. well, i have just a couple more quick matters and then we will wrap up. i appreciate your time this morning, mr. bernhardt and the level to which you have responded to colleagues' questions here. just very, very quickly here, i noted in my opening statement that you have received the endorsement of the alaska federation of natives. i think that is significant. certainly considering, again, the very unique relationship between alaska's tribes and the federal government and through the alaska native claims settlement act of 1971.
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we're coming up on our 50th anniversary here. we recognize that many of the commitments made under ansa remain unfulfilled. that is something we try to chip away at but it's been frustrating at times as we have felt that the space has been very, very slow. just briefly, your commitment to ensuring that the federal government's commitments to alaska natives under ancsa will be met and what you can do to ensure that we see more meaningful consultation is native americans not only in alaska but around the country. this is an area of concern that i continue to hear. there's a level of inconsistency with what consultation is and does and means. some agencies are better than others, but again it's making
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sure that this is more than just a check the box exercise. just very briefly if you would. >> first off, and you're largely responsible for this. we have the best indian affairs hallway that we've had in a very long time. tara, john, mark, it's an incredible group. they're doing great things. one of the things we're doing is making sure that the other agencies understand consultation a little better. we are completely committed. i have an a-team and i'll do whatever they ask in terms of helping them. >> well, i appreciate you giving them that latitude, that flexibility to really build this out because i do believe you have extraordinary experts in place and of course in alaska we're very proud of tara sweeney and all that she is doing there.
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within the lands package, there was a provision that we were able to include that we were very pleased that the president actually singled it out when we were there at the signing for the ceremony in the oval office and this related to the alaska native veterans lands allotment. one of the provisions, again, that we looked to, we've been working on for decades. and finally we will see an opportunity for those who served us in vietnam to be able to receive their native allotments that they were unable to take opportunity while they were serving. and i think it's fair to say we've been kind of tempering the expectations because we know there is now a process that needs to unfold in order to implement that program.
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but i would ask you and your team there to be working aggressively to try to advance implementation with regards to the knavenative allotments. it has been a long time in coming and i think it's a fair statement to say that many who have been waiting are anxious and eager to understand what their next steps will be. so i'd like you commitment to be working on that. >> absolutely. it did not go unnoticed to me that the president specifically mentioned that. you know, we just formed yesterday this task force for implementation. i'll sit down with the assistant secretary from land and minerals. we'll figure out what we need to do and we'll move toot suite. one of the task force's jobs is to come back to me in 30 days
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with a schedule. i'll work on that and get back to you. >> i appreciate that as well. that was another initiative that secretary zinke singled out and said we have to make some headway on that. finally, i just want to make sure that we've clarified for the record here some of the issues that were raised earlier by a couple colleagues. i appreciate that there were some hard questions for you here, but it must be exceptionally hard to sit in a committee, to sit where you are and to have it not only be suggested but to be stated that you have lied. that is very difficult. i think it is unnecessary. we can take hard questions around here. but i want to make sure that you have an opportunity, a final opportunity to just provide very
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clearly, because it's my understanding that the office of government ethics has completed the review process for your nomination and found you to be in good standing. >> that is correct. >> it's also my understanding that interior's designated agency ethics official has determined that you will "be in compliance with the conflicts of interest laws and regulations that will apply if you're confirmed as secretary." is that right? >> that is correct. >> i am very satisfied with these answers, but is there anything else you would like to add for the record this morning to any concerns that were raised or statements made by members that you believe deserve a response? >> i certainly didn't lie to the senator. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> mr. bernhardt thank you for being here this morning. thank you for your willingness to serve. thank you for your family who are there to back you. i, again, appreciate all that
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you have done prior to this time in giving guidance, giving counsel and truly helping us move in a direction that is positive for this country. i look forward to a rapid confirmation through the process and to see you put in full capacity as secretary of the interior. with that, the committee stands adjourned. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations]
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we're live on capitol hill where health and human services secretary alex azar will testify about the administration's health care policy and his agency's 2020 budget request. he's expected to get questions on the affordable care act and other issues. this is the senate appropriations subcommittee on health and human services. it would get underway live here on c-span 3.
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