President Trump said he plans to nominate David Bernhardt to lead the Department of Interior in an official capacity.
Bernhardt has been serving as acting secretary at Interior since former chief Ryan Zinke, who is facing congressional investigations for his controversial leadership of the department, resigned in December.
"David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived, and we look forward to having his nomination officially confirmed!" Trump said Monday on Twitter.
Bernhardt, who was widely considered to be Zinke's successor, previously served as an attorney with the Denver-based Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, which has lobbied on behalf of the oil and gas industry.
The cabinet post requires Senate confirmation, following a hearing by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Although the committee has yet to schedule a hearing, Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), promised to schedule one soon and "move his nomination forward as expeditiously as possible...I strongly support David Bernhardt to serve as the next Secretary of the Interior," she said Tuesday.
"He already has helped the department accomplish a great deal for Alaska and the nation, both as deputy secretary and as acting secretary, and he is more than capable of leading on a permanent basis."
The oil and gas industry welcomed the selection of Bernhardt and urged the Senate to confirm him.
"The Department of the Interior plays a critical role in advancing America's energy revolution, which has made the U.S. the world's leading producer of natural gas and oil, while driving emissions to their lowest levels in a generation," said American Petroleum Institute CEO Mike Sommers. "API supports the nomination of David Bernhardt and we look forward to working with him should he be confirmed."
Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, said Bernhardt "possesses an impressive depth of experience at the department and knowledge of Interior issues. His selection as secretary will assure that important energy and conservation policies will not miss a beat in the transition."