Last week, William Pendley, a known anti-public lands zealot, was officially redelegated the authority to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) by the Trump administration. With the return of Congress, key Western senators have largely remained silent on Pendley’s re-anointment, with some even supporting his continued authority over America’s largest public lands management agency despite the administration’s ongoing violation of the U.S. Constitution.
“Not only is handing William Pendley the keys to America’s public lands and shared natural resources worse than putting a fox in a hen house, but it’s also a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution,” said Western Values Project Deputy Director Jayson O’Neill. “The Trump administration has usurped senators’ constitutional authority to provide critical oversight on top-level nominations like the BLM for over three years. Yet, some Western senators seem to have lost their backbone when it comes to defending our constitution and our public lands. It’s long past time for these key senators to step up, speak out and defend the constitution by rejecting Pendley’s redelegation of authority before it’s too late.”
Article II, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, also known as ‘advice and consent,’ gives the Senate the responsibility to advise the president about nominees and the authority to consent to (approve or reject) certain nominations, including the BLM director position. According to an analysis by the Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service, only 67% of the positions at Interior that require Senate confirmation have been filled after three years.
Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and John Barrasso (R-WY) have gone so far as to actually voice open support for Pendley’s leadership at the BLM. Daines even said that constituent concerns over Pendley’s past advocacy for the sale of public lands were ‘overblown.’ Other critical senators representing public land states, including Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), have remained silent. Colorado will be highly affected by Pendley’s leadership, given the recent upheaval of the BLM from its long-time headquarters to Grand Junction, Colorado.
The redelegation comes despite widespread concern from public lands watchdog groups, Congress, former and current BLM officials, and sports groups concerning Pendley’s extremist views and his laundry list of conflicts of interest.
In response, Western Values Project (WVP) launched WilliamPendley.org, a website detailing his extremist past and calling on Congress to immediately reject him.