Senator Collins’ Statement on the Confirmation of David Bernhardt

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins issued this statement following the confirmation of David Bernhardt to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior:


“After careful consideration, I joined Senator Angus King in voting to confirm David Bernhardt as Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.  With more than a decade of experience at the Department, Mr. Bernhardt has demonstrated that he understands its mission as well as the role of Congress when it comes to oversight and accountability.  In fact, of the past 52 Secretaries of the Interior in our history, only one has had more agency experience. 


“As a cosponsor of legislation that would ban offshore drilling along the coast of New England, I have informed Mr. Bernhardt that I strongly oppose opening up waters off the coast of Maine, or in any proximate area, to offshore drilling for oil or gas.  Maine’s economy is inextricably linked to our environment, and numerous jobs in our state depend on the health of our oceans and coast. In a letter from Mr. Bernhardt, he assured me that: ‘the views of the State of Maine, the Governor and the Congressional Delegation will be a determining factor during any review of potential areas for Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) development…’  In his letter, Mr. Bernhardt also noted that any oil and gas development in the five year leasing program ‘must be consistent with the enforceable policies of an affected state’s coastal management program, pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management Act.  States can review OCS exploration and development and production plans for federal consistency and if a state objects to the plans, the Department of the Interior is prohibited from approving it.’


“With the entire Maine Delegation and Governor unified in opposition, I’m confident that we will prevent offshore drilling from occurring in New England.”