Tester Presses BLM Chief William Pendley on Past Positions: ‘You have a long record advocating selling off the public lands you now oversee’
Senator demands answers on public lands, calls for recusal from Badger Two-Medicine case; “Your appointment to your current position is an end run around the Senate’s responsibility to oversee and confirm federal leadership positions”
Writing “you have a long record advocating selling off the public lands you now oversee,” U.S. Senator Jon Tester is asking William Pendley for answers on his anti-public land positions and calling on him to recuse himself from the Badger Two-Medicine case following his elevation to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) without Senate confirmation.
Tester voiced serious concerns over Pendley’s repeated calls for the federal government to sell off public lands, demanding he explain his past ethical violations regarding a coal leasing program and calling on him to recuse himself from his various flagrant conflicts of interest, including the Badger Two-Medicine case.
“You have a long record of opposing federal land management and advocating for selling off the public lands that you now oversee,” Tester wrote. “You also have clear conflicts of interest between your past work and ongoing lawsuits involving the BLM. Public lands are essential to maintaining a robust outdoor economy and the Montanan way of life. I will never stop defending public lands from being stripped from the people that use and cherish them.”
Tester went on to ask Pendley, who has encouraged armed standoffs between federal law enforcement officials and ranchers, whether he believes states and private land owners have adequate resources to suppress wildfires, support county governments, and protect and enlarge public access across BLM’s 250 million acres.
“In Montana, public lands power a $7.1 billion outdoor recreation industry,” Tester’s letter continues. “Sportsmen, ranchers, small businesses, and local governments rely on public lands to provide clean water, wildlife habitat, and an incredible economic opportunity.”
Finally, Tester called on Pendley to recuse himself from any decision-making related to the Badger Two-Medicine Area. Prior to taking charge of BLM, Pendley was president of the anti-public lands group Mountain States Legal Foundation, and served as counsel for Solenex LLC, the firm seeking to restore illegally-issued drilling leases in the sacred Badger Two-Medicine Area. Tester recently slammed the Department of Interior’s decision to renege on its commitment to the Blackfeet Tribe by opening up the sacred area to oil and gas drilling
Tester’s letter asks for public clarity on Pendley’s positions, saying “your appointment to your current position is an end run around the Senate’s responsibility to oversee and confirm federal leadership positions, and deprives Montanans of the ability to hear from you firsthand in a public confirmation hearing. As such, I request you to respond to the following questions to clarify your history on the sale of public lands and to provide background on your vision for the future of federal land management.”
You can read Tester’s full letter to Pendley HERE.