Swamp creatures protested the fact that President Trump is in fact, not draining the swamp.
Protesting the appointment of Secretary of the Interior nominee David Bernhardt, activists donned Creature from the Black Lagoon masks during his confirmation hearing.
Bernhardt, who used to lobby for oil and gas organizations, is Trump’s pick to lead the department responsible for managing federal land and natural resources. A large part of the job is conservation, prompting environmental groups to question Bernhardt’s ethics and conflicts of interest. Critics say that during his current stint as Acting Interior Secretary, his policy decisions are already biased in favor of his former clients.
Referencing Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp,” protestors silently sat in the confirmation hearing wearing swamp creature masks and ghillie suits.
“During my service at the department, both as a deputy and as the solicitor, I have worked with many of you and your staff,” Bernhardt said in his opening statement, completely oblivious to a protester nonchalantly putting on a swamp creature mask behind him. “For me there are few duties as important to the country as the varied missions of the Department of the Interior.”
Several mask-wearing protesters were interspersed throughout the room.
Bernhardt promised to both conserve public land while also supporting oil and gas developments. The New York Times says he cited his childhood summers, telling the panel, “You know that I love the outdoors and that I hunt and fish.”
If confirmed, he would be the second former lobbyist leading federal environmental agencies. Andrew Wheeler, who lobbied for the coal industry, is now at the top of the Environmental Protection Agency. Both of their predecessors, who were also appointed by Trump, Ryan Zinke and Scott Pruitt, respectively, stepped down after corruption scandals.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will decide if Bernhardt’s nomination will be passed onto a Senate vote.