Pendley, a notorious anti-public lands activist, was stripped of delegated authority with BLM following district court ruling; actions from his tenure face growing scrutiny
MISSOULA, Mont. – Senate legislation introduced October 21st. would keep anti-public lands activist William Perry Pendley from resuming his illegal role exercising the authority of director for the Bureau of Land Management, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers announced.
The Public Lands Leadership Act, introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), would prevent the Department of Justice from protecting Pendley as the de facto acting director and appealing a district court order that stripped Pendley’s delegated director authority for the BLM. This ruling, issued in September by Judge Brian Morris of the Federal District Court of Montana, ordered Pendley’s removal as BLM head and confirmed that Pendley had been occupying that role unlawfully. The order also called into question any decisions Pendley oversaw during this time and called for a report on all actions undertaken. Morris subsequently issued a second ruling that invalidated three Montana resource management plans approved during Pendley’s tenure.
BHA President and CEO Land Tawney reaffirmed the need for qualified leadership of a critical federal land management agency.
“William Perry Pendley never should have been allowed to work for the Bureau of Land Management in any capacity – let alone be nominated for the head job,” said Tawney. “After a series of background checks, the administration knew he couldn’t pass the scrutiny of a confirmation hearing and rescinded his nomination in short order. If you can’t withstand the scrutiny of the Senate then you shouldn’t serve as ‘acting’ director or any other senior capacity, a role that Pendley continues to flaunt publicly, touting his continued leadership over the entire bureau.
“We agree with Judge Morris,” Tawney continued. “All actions undertaken by Mr. Pendley while he was acting under the illegally delegated authority of BLM director should be subject to review. We applaud Senators Tester and Manchin and hope all members of Congress will call on the administration to remove William Perry Pendley from any position or agency connected to the stewardship of our public lands and waters. Pendley’s appointment was a sham from the beginning. We need to erase his name from the payroll for good.”
While Pendley’s authority to act as BLM director has been removed, he remains at the BLM as the deputy director of policy and programs until he resigns or is removed by the Trump administration. Judge Morris’ order does not have any impact on Pendley continuing in this senior role at the BLM, exerting tremendous influence and authority over management decisions including energy development and resource extraction.
Pendley’s unsavory reputation as an attorney with a long and established track record of supporting the sale of millions of acres of U.S. public lands and waters precedes him. Until 2018 he was president of the conservative law firm Mountain States Legal Foundation and has authored books including Warriors for the West: Fighting Bureaucrats, Radical Groups, and Liberal Judges on America’s Frontier and War on the West: Government Tyranny on America’s Great Frontier. In 2016 he wrote a National Review column calling on the federal government to sell Western public lands.
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