It is well-known by now that many of those who work in Mr. Trump’s administration have come to be controversial for one reason or another. So this is why it isn’t a surprise that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has been strongly criticized by environmental groups for his detrimental policies.
According to The Washington Post:
‘Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Tuesday extended the tenure of William Perry Pendley as effective head of the Bureau of Land Management – without nominating him to the post.’
The position of Bureau of Land Management Director had been left open for Trump’s entire presidency. The Post reported:
‘Bernhardt delegated “all functions, duties, and responsibilities” to Pendley, who has been a stalwart supporter of selling or opening up federal lands to drilling, mining and other commercial use.’
This appointment is expected to last until April 3 unless someone else is appointed or Trump nominates Pendley for the permanent post.
According to The Post:
‘Pendley’s nomination as the actual head of the BLM would have faced tough Senate confirmation hearings because of his ultraconservative views.’
Pendley’s duties include being the caretaker of 245 million acres of public lands and 700 million acres of natural resources. Most of the agency’s headquarters are being moved to Grand Junction, Colorado.
Pendley has a history of unethical dealings. When he was a senior official in the Reagan administration, he opened up federal land for coal leasing, and his relationship coal lobbyists at the time was sharply criticized as unethical.
Then, Pendley became president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, which is an agency that has frequently sided with oil and gas drillers, towns and ranchers.
Given his controversial history, environmental groups have been strongly critical of the decision to continue his tenure at BLM.
Pendley wrote a book called “Sagebrush Rebel,” which was about Reagan’s battle with environmentalists. Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for the public lands at National Wildlife Federation said:
‘(Pendley was) a self-described rebel, but the only thing he’s consistently rebelled against is that public lands should remain in public hands.’
Western Values Project Deputy Director Jayson O’Neill said in a statement:
‘Secretary Bernhardt’s redelegation of the BLM director’s authority to anti-public lands zealot Pendley is a slap in the face to all public land users and the U.S. Constitution.’
In an email, one interior department spokesperson said:
‘Mr. Pendley brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Department and a commitment to carry out priorities of President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt for the better of the American people.’
About Pendley’s appointment, he said that it was:
‘intended to ensure uninterrupted management and execution of (duties).’
According to The Post:
‘During Pendley’s term at the BLM so far, there has been an increase in leasing oil and gas prospects on federal lands. In Nevada, instead of holding traditional quarterly lease sales, the BLM began holding monthly lease sales in September. The agency offered nearly 1.8 million acres of land, much of it in big game migration areas or sage-grouse habitats, according to the National Wildlife Federation.’
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