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Trump Withdraws Nomination, But Pendley Will Remain Temporary BLM Director

BLM Deputy Director William Perry Pendley
BLM Deputy Director William Perry Pendley

News broke over the weekend that the Trump administration is reportedly pulling its contentious nomination for U.S. Bureau of Land Management director. That nominee, William Perry Pendley will continue to lead the BLM as its temporary director.

A U.S. Interior Department spokesperson said in an email to MTPR that Pendley will maintain his position as BLM’s deputy director and will continue to exercise the director’s authority until a nominee is confirmed by the Senate.

BLM Deputy Director William Perry Pendley.
Credit Bureau of Land Management
BLM Deputy Director William Perry Pendley.

Republican Sen. Steve Daines sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which will have an initial role in the confirmation process. Over the past year, Daines has refrained from voicing his opinion on Pendley’s appointment, though he’s called criticism of Pendley’s record advocating for the sale of public lands “overblown.” Last week at an event in Gardner, Daines told Yellowstone Public Radio he was concerned about that record.

"I have serious concerns about positions he’s taken, particularly around the sale and transfer of public lands and stream access."

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Daines said the Senator looks forward to reviewing the next official nomination to serve as BLM’s director. The statement did not say whether or not Daines supports Pendley continuing to serve as BLM’s director.

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester has been a vocal opponent of Pendley and raised concerns over the weekend about him continuing to serve as quote, “acting director.” That’s a concern shared by public land advocates like Montana Backcountry Hunters and Anglers CEO Land Tawney.

"Why is he still in his acting position, I think is the biggest question of the day," Tawney says.

Pendley’s position as BLM’s de facto leader is the subject of a lawsuit filed by Gov. Steve Bullock earlier this summer. Bullock, who is running against Daines for a U.S. Senate seat, said in a tweet over the weekend he would seek “expedited relief” from the court to strip Pendley of his current authority.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Aaron is Montana Public Radio's Flathead reporter.