Former Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture
As a Rubenstein Fellow, Bonnie is working with students and faculty to address issues related to climate change and natural resource conservation, with a focus on rural America.
Through the Nicholas Institute’s Catalyst Program, Bonnie leads a project that is assessing rural attitudes on the environment in order to identify ways of engaging rural Americans – who manage large portions of America’s lands and watersheds – in collaborative solutions to addressing environmental challenges. Bonnie also led a 2017-18 Bass Connections project team that developed policy proposals to meet the goals of the Mid-Century Decarbonization plan and is leading a second Bass Connections project team in 2018-19 titled Rethinking the Endangered Species Act’s Implementation on Private, Working Lands. Bonnie also teaches courses in the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy.
From August 2013 to January 2017, Robert Bonnie was the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In this role, Bonnie oversaw the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service on a variety of natural resource issues, including management of the 193 million acre National Forest and Grassland System, implementation of Farm Bill conservation programs on America's farms, ranches and forests, and climate change. From April 2009 to July 2013, Bonnie served as Senior Advisor to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for environment and climate change. Prior to joining the USDA, Mr. Bonnie was Vice President for Land Conservation for the Environmental Defense Fund where he focused on developing incentives to reward farmers, ranchers and forest owners for stewardship activities on private lands. Mr. Bonnie has master degrees in forestry and environmental management from Duke University. He grew up on a farm in Kentucky and now lives in Virginia.
The Hill | June 23, 2019 Opinion by Robert Bonnie and Jad Daley With the impacts of a warming planet becoming more apparent every day, climate change is taking center stage in the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Most of the candidates have articulated commitments or released plans to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions…
POLITICO| June 23, 2019 By Helena Bottemiller Evich The Trump administration has refused to publicize dozens of government-funded studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change, defying a longstanding practice of touting such findings by the Agriculture Department’s acclaimed in-house scientists. The studies range from a groundbreaking discovery that rice loses vitamins in a…
The Washington Examiner | May 8, 2019 By Josh Siegel Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., introduced legislation Wednesday to expand the pace and scale of forest management projects meant to reduce the risk of wildfires that have become more destructive and common. The bill represents a continued push by Republicans backed by the Trump administration who…
"The Rubenstein Fellowship has provided me with a tremendous opportunity to work with faculty and students at the Nicholas School, the Nicholas Institute and the Sanford School to explore challenges in environmental conservation in rural America and to develop new policy approaches that can work for both rural constituencies and the environment."- Robert Bonnie, 2017-19 Rubenstein Fellow