William Pendley, the reappointed Acting Director for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), released a 17-page recusal list detailing over 57 entities that he supposedly should be recused from working with, according to President Trump’s so-called ethics pledge. Strikingly excluded from his recusal list was the Northwest Mining Association, despite Pendley’s connection to their previous lawsuit against the agency he now heads.
“It’s been clear from the beginning that William Pendley is a known anti-public lands zealot. And while he took the time to list out nearly 60 entities that he should be recused from working with, it’s clear as mud as to why Northwestern Mining Association isn’t clearly noted on that list,” said Jayson O’Neill, Western Values Project Deputy Director. “Pendley’s former front group sued the federal government, including the BLM, in an effort to expand uranium drilling around the Grand Canyon. If Pendley isn’t recused from working with this group, it begs the question: how many other special interests did Pendley leave off this already-sizeable list?”
Pendley’s ties to the Northwest Mining Association were reported by KUER, raising further ethical questions concerning Pendley’s conflicted history. A BLM spokesperson told KUER that Pendley had ‘recused himself from any matters involving the legal activities of his former law firm.’ However, the Northwest Mining Association was not included on his mega-list of recusals released last week.
Before joining Interior, Pendley was president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), an anti-public lands front group, which represented the Northwest Mining Association in their lawsuit against the federal government’s efforts to protect the over one million acres surrounding Grand Canyon National Park from harmful mining, including uranium mining.
Pendley is now in charge of managing the same land his former group was seeking to open to mining. Mineral mining around the Grand Canyon is a long-standing issue with newly-renewed pressure from nuclear industry interests.
O’Neill continued, “With Pendley’s close association leading an organization that sued to remove protections on public lands around the Grand Canyon, not only should he be recused from working with related entities — he’s clearly too conflicted to employed by BLM in the first place.”
William Pendley was brought into Interior’s fold in late July and granted the authority of Acting BLM director shortly after his hire by Secretary Bernhardt. His appointment was roundly criticized because of his 30-year record of advocating for the abolishment of federal public lands, supporting efforts to repeal the Antiquities Act, and rallying against sage grouse protections.
It was also reported that Pendley was still the attorney of record for two interested parties concerning the contested Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument lawsuit. He only recently recused himself from this work, yet he is still listed as the attorney of record. Pendley’s 278 financial disclosure form, requested by WVP over two months ago, still has not been released, making it is impossible to tell if every conflict has been disclosed or if his financial holdings would require further recusals.
Recently, 12 senators sent a letter to Secretary Bernhardt requesting the immediate termination of Pendley’s authority as acting director.