A spokeswoman for the Interior Department, Melissa Brown, said in a statement that “There is absolutely no connection whatsoever” between the vote and the letter from Mr. Bernhardt.
The communications director for Representative Van Drew, Mackenzie Lucas, wrote in an email, “These things have nothing to do with one another.” Noting that Representative Van Drew has long opposed impeachment, the spokesperson wrote, “it is absurd to think that the Congressman would trade his vote for some sand.”
In his news release this week, Representative Van Drew said Mr. Bernhardt’s decision “proves that we can still come together in a bipartisan fashion and seek common-sense solutions to improve the lives of Americans.”
Beyond the threat posed to protected coastal zones, critics said the policy shift would also encourage more property development in beach towns at risk of flooding, or even becoming uninhabitable in the long term, because of climate change.
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