Rumored DOI #2 stands to gain from loosening BLM oversight of CA water project

The lobbying firm for a rumored candidate for Deputy Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, has already gotten a big win from the Department. Bernhardt was also a member of the Trump transition team.

The LA Times reports that Bureau of Land Management has reversed the underpinnings of an order that blocked Cadiz Inc.’s plans to extract desert groundwater in California for sale. The order had been intended to conserve scare water resources in the area.

“[Cadiz CEO Scott Slater] is a water attorney and shareholder of the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which runs a high-profile lobbying operation in Washington. For three years Slater was co-chair, along with David Bernhardt, of the firm’s Natural Resources Department.”

McClatchy recently reported that Slater’s and Bernhardt’s firm stands to profit substantially from the success of this project:

According to an SEC filing last year, the Brownstein firm stands to earn 200,000 shares of Cadiz stock, [currently worth over $3 million], if the company meets milestones for completing the project and selling water. Brownstein has already earned 200,000 shares for its involvement with the company — a stock portfolio that is sure to appreciate in value if Cadiz can overcome permitting obstacles.”

The last time Bernhardt worked at Interior (2001-2009) the Department was rocked with scandals surrounding disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. That his lobbying firm may now benefit from a decision made by DOI during a time when he is under consideration for a top job there raises serious questions:

These questions deserve answers if David Bernhardt is going to be the second most powerful official at the Department of the Interior.

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