Article appeared in Maine Insights on March 17, 2019
By Ramona du Houx
The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) spends more than $1 million per year to push its agenda in Congress and federal regulatory agencies.
Gathered for a private meeting in June 2017, oil executives who make up IPAA were celebrating David Bernhardt’s sudden rise. Their former lawyer had been appointed to the No. 2 spot at the Department of the Interior.
Now, his confirmation hearing to become the Secretary of the Interior starts March 28, 2019 at 10am.
“We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues,” said Dan Naatz, the IPAA political director, to about 100 executives keying them into the fact that Bernhardt’s new role meant their priorities would be heard at the highest levels of Interior.
Politico’s Reveal released the story on March 23, 2019 after obtaining a hourlong recording of the IPAA’s 2017 meeting at a beachside Ritz-Carlton in Laguna, CA, from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization.
Above: Public lands in NM at risk if Bernhardt is confirmed as Sec. of the Interior.
“Bernhardt has already made his mark by reversing key Obama-era climate change policies, and prioritizing oil and gas drilling at the expense of our public lands. His ties to the fossil fuel industry are so numerous, he is rumored to have to carry a card with him to keep track of his potential conflicts of interest,” said Former Maine State Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, who served in the Marines in Iraq and is now a Lieutenant in the Navy Reserves, and The Elected Officials to Protect America’s Lands (EOPA) co-founder.
“Clearly, Bernhardt’s loyalties are not with the American public. One of the rights we veterans fought for is the freedom of access for all Americans to our revered public lands. Any Interior Secretary should uphold the agency’s mission to protect our public lands while upholding the Constitutional vows they take. We must keep Bernhard from stealing our birth right to access America’s public lands.”
EOPA is an unique group of 80 veterans who are elected officials, signed and sent a letter to the Interior Secretary in support of reauthorizing the LWCF last August. A week after some of them met with eight senators on Capitol Hill the LWCF funding bill, that had been languishing in committee, was approved. Continued pressure from EOPA didn’t stop until it passed the US House and Senate. Now it’s the law of the land.
Public waters and land at risk to the oil industry if Bernhardt becomes the Sec. of the Interior. His confirmation hearings start March 30, 2019. Photo: Ramona du Houx