Late last week, a federal judge in Montana clearly rebuked nearly four years of Trump’s temporary acting official‘s legal charade that could have major implications across the administration. The judge removed Bureau of Land Management Acting Director William Perry Pendley’s authority and indicated that actions under his reign could be voided.
Pendley had been the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for 424 days, overseeing numerous harmful decisions, deregulatory efforts, unchecked oil and gas leasing, and industry-favored land use plans. Now, in a desperate attempt to save face and preserve a raft full of industry favors over the duration of his tenure, the Department of the Interior (DOI) is planning on doubling down by appealing the judge’s decision.
“It is clear the Trump administration has been running afoul of the law and Constitution in its attempts to install temporary officials like Pendley. Now, taxpayers are going to be on the hook as the administration tries to save face by blindly appealing this strong rebuke of its legal charade,” said Western Values Project director Jayson O’Neill. “Pendley’s authority was never above bar in voters’ minds, and polling across six states backs that up — showing voters’ strong disapproval of his authority. Challenging this decision will not only cost taxpayers more, but create additional layers of uncertainty for both industry and public land users.”
Because of the nature of Pendley’s authority and the statutory obligations of a bureau director, decisions made under his leadership could be challenged, according to some legal experts. Here is a look at some of the more controversial BLM orders and decisions under Pendley’s leadership that now linger under a cloud of uncertainty:
A timeline of Pendley’s redelegation of authority shuffle enforces that Interior Department officials and Secretary Bernhardt knew they were not acting lawfully.
The timeline is very clear, and it points to Secretary Bernhardt and Pendley willfully carrying forward Pendley’s authority as director of the BLM despite knowing it was illegal. A full list of BLM orders during Pendley’s illegal tenure is available upon request.