Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said on Saturday at the American Conservative Union’s 2020 CPAC in Oxon Hill, Maryland, that President Donald Trump has made it a priority to give Americans access to federal lands for both pleasure and business.
In keeping with that goal, Bernhardt said that his agency is committed to making sure that 245 million acres in the western United States be “specifically designated to be managed for multiple use.”
“We’ve expanded by 1.4 million acres this last year as opportunities for hunting and fishing on public lands and in forests, but more importantly we have ensured the concept of multiple use is embodied,” Bernhardt said.
“So we are open for business in many places for public lands and at the same time ensuring that we maintain our conservation stewardship,” Bernhardt said.
Bernhardt said Trump’s business background has served him well as president and, in turn, the American people.
“Our president in unbelievable when it comes to looking at problems and saying, ‘You know what, we need to fix it. Get on it,’” Bernhardt said.
The secretary said that in 2016 Trump concluded that federal overregulation was not good for wildlife or the American people and the economy.
“The president is a builder,” Bernhardt said. “He’s experienced what it’s like to be a developer, and he could appreciate that to be paralyzed in an analytical process going nowhere was bad for the country.”
Bernhardt said after a 40-year battle over opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for energy development, the Trump administration has achieved access to a part of the United States that is rich in natural resources.
“He won that in legislation and we’re about to finalize a leasing process for that,” Bernhardt said. “And that’s very significant.”
“But beyond that, we have dramatically changed the concept of energy development on federal land to the point where our revenue from energy development last year was 98 percent more than the last year of the Obama administration,” Bernhardt said.
And, for the first time, under Trump, the United States is energy independent as it develops its domestic oil and gas production capacity.
“This year, federal and Indian lands together, we produced over a billion gallons of oil,” Bernhardt said. “No one thought that could be done.”
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