Department of The Interior (DOI)

Trump to nominate former oil lobbyist for interior secretary

Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt.
Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Monday announced he will nominate David Bernhardt, a former longtime energy lobbyist, to lead the Interior Department, ending the search for a permanent replacement for embattled and scandal-ridden Ryan Zinke.

Details: Bernhardt became the agency’s deputy secretary in summer 2017 and has been leading the department on an acting interim basis since Zinke resigned in December amid several ethics scandals, including one reportedly referred to the Justice Department. Bernhardt worked in the Interior Department under President George W. Bush and has since lobbied on behalf of several companies and organizations with business at his agency now.

Joshua trees cut down by vandals during government shutdown

Joshua trees
Joshua trees. Photo: FlowerPhotos/UIG via Getty Images

Vulnerable Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park in California have been cut down by visitors who illegally drove into areas where vehicles are banned during the partial government shutdown. As a result, the park is closed indefinitely, its superintendent said Thursday.

Why it matters: In all previous government shutdowns that affected the Department of Interior, administrations closed the parks rather than allow access unsupervised. Joshua trees already face threats of extinction from climate change.

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