"Top Leader at Interior Dept. Pushes a Policy Favoring His Former Client"

"David Bernhardt, the agency’s acting chief, wants to roll back endangered-species protections on a tiny fish, a change that benefits few outside a California group he once represented as a lobbyist."

"WASHINGTON — As a lobbyist and lawyer, David Bernhardt fought for years on behalf of a group of California farmers to weaken Endangered Species Act protections for a finger-size fish, the delta smelt, to gain access to irrigation water.

As a top official since 2017 at the Interior Department, Mr. Bernhardt has been finishing the job: He is working to strip away the rules the farmers had hired him to oppose.

Last week President Trump said he would nominate Mr. Bernhardt to lead the Interior Department, making him the latest in a line of officials now regulating industries that once paid them to work as lobbyists. Others include Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who now heads the Environmental Protection Agency after the resignation of Scott Pruitt amid ethics scandals. William Wehrum, the nation’s top clean-air regulator, is a lawyer whose former clients included coal-burning power plants and oil giants."

Coral Davenport reports for the New York Times February 12, 2019.

Source: NY Times, 02/12/2019