Term Extension for Pro-Drilling Interior Department Official Shows Normalization of Radical Views

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Pendley

Note: Today, President Donald Trump extended the term of the director of the Bureau of Land Management William Perry Pendley, a BLM deputy director who has been temporarily exercising the authority of the director.

William Perry Pendley is an anti-government extremist and ardent advocate for selling off public lands for the use of the energy and mining industry. Pendley’s fringe property rights views, and uncritical embrace of fossil fuels should disqualify him from working at BLM.

The Trump administration’s apparent reluctance to nominate Pendley for the permanent position of BLM shows that even the most corrupt and anti-immigrant administration in modern times doesn’t want to engage in a public battle over such an extreme nominee. Pendley has been exercising the authority of the agency’s director under three-month temporary orders and will apparently keep doing so until April 3 or longer.

All the evidence anyone needs for Pendley’s unsuitability for the position can be found in a 17-page recusal list that lays out 57 companies and individuals, including farming, mining and energy concerns, that make up Pendley’s former clients, employees and other financial interests. Pendley’s track record of climate change denial and intolerant statements provides even more reason for lawmakers to reject his leadership at BLM.

Pendley spent his career working to facilitate the sale of public lands to the energy and mining industries during nearly 30 years as president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a far-right anti-regulation group. Mountain States generally views environmental regulations as ‘property takings’ and fights regulations in court with the sponsorship of right-wing and corporate donors.

Trump consistently has nominated officials who seek to undermine the agencies they are chosen to lead. Pendley is no exception. Pendley has sympathized with the violent extremist Bundy family and argued that the Founding Fathers ‘intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold.’ As a Reagan administration official, Pendley pushed to sell all BLM-managed lands east of the Mississippi River.