Energy & Environment – House Dems are calling for an investigation into the former Home Secretary – Advice Eating

The Hill, Greg Nash

House Democrats are calling on the Justice Department to investigate the former Home Secretary David Bernhardtand a federal report found that hundreds of Native children died in state boarding schools.

This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news on energy, the environment and more. For The Hill we are Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Someone forwarded this newsletter to you? Subscribe here.

Dems call for investigations against ex-interior minister

Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee are calling on the Justice Department (DOJ) to investigate Trump-era Interior Secretary David Bernhardt for allegations he may have engaged in a “quid pro quo” related to a permit for clean water involved.

The committee on Wednesday filed a criminal referral to the DOJ over the situation for the first time in its history.

What is claimed? Lawmakers raised concerns that the federal government was changing its position on an approval around the same time the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee were receiving donations from a beneficiary of the reversal.

The beneficiary’s and others’ donations, which totaled nearly $250,000, fell outside of the typical election cycle and were “highly unusual,” according to the referral.

“These facts raise serious concerns about a potentially criminal quid pro quo,” Committee Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Bernhardt did not immediately respond to The Hill’s requests for comment. A representative for the beneficiary, Mike Ingram, owner of developer El Dorado Holdings, said there was no wrongdoing.

“Everything Mr. Ingram and El Dorado did was about asking the government to look at the facts and the law. Period. No return for campaign donations. No exchange for political ties,” El Dorado legal counsel Lanny Davis told The Hill.

(Davis has contributed opinion pieces to The Hill.)

The details: The allegations stem from a reversal of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) stance on a permit for a development project in Arizona known as Villages at Vigneto.

Now-retired FWS Field Supervisor Steve Spangle told the Arizona Daily Star in 2019 that he had been pressured by a “senior politician” to reverse a decision that would have required detailed analysis of the development’s impact on endangered species .

He said at the time that he had been “overruled” and in an October 2017 letter reversed course in a way that made it easier for the project to gain Clean Water Act approval.

The Democrats’ report notes that Bernhardt and Ingram met over breakfast in August 2017.

They also note that on October 6, 2017, when the permit reassessment was announced:

  • Ingram donated $10,000 to the Trump Victory Fund (TVF), a committee that funds both the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC).
  • Between October 5, 2017 and October 10, 2017, Ingram and 12 other Arizona donors donated a total of $147,000 to the same organization, the remittance states
  • A donor gave the RNC an additional $94,600

Read more about the recommendation here.

Hundreds of Native Children Died in Federal Schools: Interior

Hundreds of Native American children have died after being forced into state boarding schools over a 50-year period, the Interior Department said Wednesday in its first investigative report on the program.

  • The research found that between 1819 and 1869 a total of 408 schools were operated by the federal government, plus another 89 that received no federal funding
  • The department has so far identified more than 500 deaths in 19 schools, according to the Home Secretary Deb Haalandbut the department expects to identify more
  • The report identified marked and unmarked burial sites at 53 schools, which are also expected to increase over the course of the analysis

A Dark Chapter: In the schools, children were forced to cut their hair and speak only English instead of their native language, and subjected to what Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland called “the militarization and identity-change methodology.”

Haaland’s grandfather was a survivor of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, whose founder Richard Henry Pratt described the institution’s mission as “kill the Indian, save the man.”

The research also found that schools often focused on job skills and manual labor rather than academic work, leaving graduates with limited skills and job prospects.

It also found that about half of the boarding schools may have enlisted the help or support of religious institutions, with the federal government paying per capita religious organizations for Native American students in some cases.

The research found that schools existed in 37 states and 11 then-territories, with the largest number, 37, being in Oklahoma. The department recommended a number of additional steps for the investigation, including producing a detailed list of boarding school burial sites and a rough estimate of federal financial assistance.

Read more about the report here.

Biden official acknowledges solar probe ‘urgency’

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Wednesday defended the Commerce Department’s investigation into solar panel component manufacturers and told the Senate Appropriations Committee that she hopes to complete it as soon as possible.

In April, Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) expressed concerns that the case “could cost us 100,000 American solar jobs and jeopardize our collective clean energy goals,” and said he had already delayed more than 300 projects.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) questioned Raimondo about the investigation, which was launched in response to a petition by US-based solar company Auxin Solar.

“Why isn’t there an industry-backed threshold to start this anti-circumvention investigation?” Moran asked. “There is a process that is used to comply with tariffs [on solar panels] introduced by a small company to the detriment of the industry.”

Noting that Auxin had not received exclusive information about the conduct of the companies concerned, Moran asked whether the Department of Commerce had determined, based on its own information, that the investigation was adequate.

The probe, launched in March, includes allegations that solar panel component makers in several Southeast Asian countries were fronts for Chinese component firms trying to evade US tariffs.

“I’ve heard from many of you and many in the industry and I share the sense of urgency,” Raimondo replied. “I understand how fragile the solar supply chain is and how we need to move forward.”

Read more about the probe here.


  • Manchin cuddles with fracking billionaire Harold Hamm (E&E News)
  • Oil giants are selling dirty wells to buyers with looser climate targets, study finds (The New York Times)
  • Revealed: The ‘carbon bombs’ set to trigger catastrophic climate collapse (The Guardian)
  • Ukraine cuts Russian gas flow to Europe through key pipeline (The Wall Street Journal)
  • California’s increased water use paves the way for more penalties (CalMatters)

And finally, something fancy and quirky: What is the buzz?

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Visit The Hill’s energy and environment page for the latest news and reports. we will see you tomorrow


Leave a Comment