Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt

Source: Twitter/@DOIDepSec

Following President Trump’s State of the Union address, Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt  paid a visit to Hobbs, N.M. today to help promote the administration’s agenda on energy issues.

Bernhart spent the afternoon on-site at Watson Hopper, Inc., a company that manufacturers and sells equipment for oil rigs.

“Great tour of Watson Hopper Inc. in Hobbs, New Mexico, today! Last night, @realDonaldTrump announced that the US is now the #1 producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. Much of that credit belongs right here in the Permian Basin,” posted Bernhardt on Twitter.

The Permian Basin straddles Southeast New Mexico and West Texas and its prolific reserves have been a boon to energy production nationwide. Thanks in large part to the Permian, the U.S. Energy Information Administration is now projecting that domestic crude oil production will rise to more than 15 million barrels per day by 2022.  The basin is second only to Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar field in daily production.

The energy boom in New Mexico and Texas is paying dividends for state and federal coffers. Today, Acting Secretary Bernhardt also announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) state offices generated $1.1 billion from oil and gas lease sales in 2018, the highest ever.  The previous record was $408 million generated in 2008.

“Responsible production of domestic energy keeps energy prices low for American families and businesses, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, creates American jobs, and generates billions of dollars in revenue to the Federal Treasury,” said Acting Secretary of the Interior Bernhardt. “The President’s visionary address last night has set the stage for this Administration’s second act on American energy dominance. With a bold, new approach to energy development, and a President who recognizes that conventional wisdom is meant to be challenged, we are starting to see what a great America looks like.”

Not surprisingly, BLM New Mexico led the way with $972 million generated on bonus bids for 142 parcels.

Acting Secretary Bernhardt was officially nominated by President Trump to take the helm of the Interior Department earlier this week.  His nomination passed through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee along party lines and will go to the full Senate for a final vote.

Bernhardt has served at the Department of Interior in various capacities.  His nomination has met resistance from environmental groups because of his work at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, a lobbying firm that represents clients in the oil and gas space.  Bernhardt has agreed to recuse himself from matters that involve former clients.

Fellow Coloradan Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) lauded Bernhardt’s nomination.

“This is fantastic news for Colorado,” said Gardner in a statement. “I’ve known David Bernhardt for many years and have worked closely with him over the last two years to advance Colorado priorities. As a native Coloradan from the Western Slope, David knows how important public lands are to our state and has a keen understanding of the issues Coloradans face every day. From moving the Bureau of Land Management to the West to promoting conservation programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Coloradans will be lucky to have David lead our Interior Department.”

Gardner also noted Bernhardt’s support among several Colorado-based groups, including the Colorado River District, Colorado Water Congress, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

“The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has worked closely with Mr. Bernhardt in his roles as Deputy Secretary and Acting Secretary, and we have found him to be accessible, fair, and true to his word. He has been a steady hand during challenging times at the Department and he has worked to strengthen relationships with the states and the nation’s sportsmen and women,” said Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) in a statement.

TRCP also noted Bernhardt’s work “has conveyed his commitment to advance the Department’s mission and support its role as steward for the public lands and natural resources.”

- Western Wire