Interior extends tenure of BLM head who once advocated selling public lands

Interior extends tenure of BLM head who once advocated selling public lands
© Courtesy Department of Interior

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Thursday extended the tenure of the controversial acting director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), ensuring William Pendley will stay at the helm of the agency even as he faces calls for his firing.

A temporary redelegation of authority signed by Bernhardt leaves Pendley in charge of the BLM through April 3.

Pendley’s renewed tenure comes as a coalition of 91 various conservation and public interest groups have called for his ousting and amid a much-contested move of BLM headquarters to Colorado.

ADVERTISEMENT

Critics have complained the orders, a frequent practice of the Department of the Interior, leave major bureaus without permanent leadership and allow controversial leaders to skip a Senate confirmation process they’d be unlikely to pass.

The coalition on Monday who demanded Pendley’s resignation cited his advocacy for selling off public lands as one reason “his actions betray BLM’s mission and demonstrate his lack of fitness to lead it.”

The Interior Department pegged the groups involved in the drafting of the letter, ranging from a number of local wildlife groups to the outdoor apparel brand Patagonia, as environmental extremists.

"For this group of environmental extremists to call themselves sportsman and conservationists is as laughable as this letter. Mr. Pendley brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Department and is committed to carrying out the Administration's priorities for the betterment of the American people," a spokesperson told The Hill by email on Monday.

Some books authored by Pendley discuss his philosophy on government land ownership, including “War on the West: Government Tyranny on America’s Frontier” and “Warriors for the West: Fighting Bureaucrats, Radical Groups, and Liberal Judges on America’s Frontier.”