Tester Urges Bernhardt to Remove Pendley from Now-Permanent Role at Bureau of Land Management: ‘An abuse of power not backed up by common sense’

Senator: Acting Director Pendley “has a long history of publicly calling for the federal government to sell off the very lands he now oversees”

As the Senate moves to clear its biggest public lands package in years, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is doubling down on his ongoing fight to make sure those lands are properly managed.

In a letter to Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, Tester today urged removal of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Acting Director William Perry Pendley, an anti-public lands activist who has spent his entire career urging the government to sell off the public lands he now oversees. Bernhardt recently claimed that Pendley can continue as Acting Director indefinitely, without facing Senate confirmation or accountability for his career-long opposition to public lands.

“Acting Director Pendley has a long history of publicly calling for the federal government to sell off the very lands he now oversees with no regard for public input or congressional approval,” Tester wrote. “Additionally, your decision to install him as acting director in perpetuity clearly circumvents congressional oversight and is an abuse of power that is not backed up by common sense. If President Trump believes Acting Director Pendley should oversee the 245 million acres of public lands the BLM manages, he should formally nominate him so Pendley can be held accountable for his views. Absent that, Acting Director Pendley should be removed or resign from this position immediately.”

Tester has vocally opposed Pendley’s leadership at BLM since he was appointed to the positions last July without Senate confirmation. Pendley has repeatedly stated his desire to sell off America’s public lands and was forced to recuse himself from a large portion of BLM’s portfolio due to various flagrant conflicts of interest.

“In addition to Acting Director Pendley’s record advocating against protecting our public lands, he has previously worked to allow oil and gas development on sacred Tribal lands and has had to recuse himself from working with dozens of energy and mineral groups the BLM works with directly,” Tester continued. “In his position, he has pursued an aggressive oil and gas leasing agenda that sidelines collaboratively-developed resource management plans, even while the public’s ability to comment has been limited during the COVID crisis. If Acting Director Pendley is not removed from his position as Acting Director, we can expect more of the same.”

Pendley previously ran the anti-public lands group Mountain States Legal Foundation, served as counsel for Solenex LLC, the firm seeking to restore illegally-issued drilling leases in the sacred Badger-Two Medicine Area, and has encouraged armed standoffs between federal law enforcement officials and ranchers.

Tester’s letter to Bernhardt is available HERE.