Two activists dressed as swamp creatures crashed the Senate confirmation hearing for Interior Secretary nominee David Bernhardt on Thursday morning.
At least one woman wearing a mask that resembled the Creature from the Black Lagoon was escorted out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing after staging a silent protest for nearly two hours, The Hill reported.
Bernhardt has served as acting secretary since Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke departed the Trump Cabinet nearly two months ago under an ethics cloud. President Donald Trump nominated Bernhardt to the position permanently in early February.
The Interior Department is a sprawling agency with some 70,000 employees that manages the country’s natural resources on land and offshore, and oversees federal lands that collectively make up a fifth of the country.
Environmental groups and their allies on Capitol Hill have been wary of Bernhardt, a former oil and agricultural industry lobbyist who also served in the George W. Bush administration. He was once labeled “the ultimate DC-swamp creature,” by Chris Saeger, executive director of the liberal environmental group Western Values Project.
Greenpeace took credit for Thursday’s stunt on Twitter and released a statement urging senators to oppose Bernhardt’s nomination.
“David Bernhardt heading the Interior Department would be a dream come true for fossil fuel companies, but a nightmare for the American people. If ethical violations alone don’t disqualify him from holding this position, his record of selling out public lands and waters to his industry buddies should,” Greenpeace USA Climate and Energy Campaign Director Janet Redman said in a press release.
Ryan Schleeter, a spokesperson for Greenpeace, told USA TODAY that the goal of the demonstration was to encourage senators to put pressure on Bernhardt and vote against his confirmation.
“The response from the Twitter community and internet has been really positive and encouraging,” Schleeter said. “Hopefully what we’re doing is making people smile and laugh and take action at the same time.”
Monopoly man: Someone dressed like the Monopoly guy photobombs the Senate’s Equifax hearing
Contributing: Ledyard King, USA TODAY
Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg