Senators consider ex-oil and gas lobbyist to head Interior

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Interior Department is promising to cut regulation for businesses without sacrificing environmental interests if he wins confirmation.

Washington veteran and former oil and gas lobbyist David Bernhardt was appearing Thursday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which is considering his nomination.

Bernhardt has been serving as Interior’s acting secretary since Ryan Zinke’s (ZIN’-keez) resignation in December amid ethics allegations.

Bernhardt told senators he was “working to reduce regulatory burdens without sacrificing environmental outcomes.”

Bernhardt is expected to face questions about any potential conflicts of interest over his past lobbying for oil and gas, corporate agriculture and others.

Trump’s emphasis on opening public lands for more oil and gas development also is expected to be a focus.

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