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Conservation groups push lawmakers for Pendley's removal

Conservation groups push lawmakers for Pendley's removal
© Courtesy Department of Interior

Conservation groups are not satisfied with the White House withdrawing the nomination of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acting Director William Perry Pendley, demanding he be removed from the agency immediately.

Though his nomination has been withdrawn, the White House has confirmed Pendley will remain in his post — a move already being challenged in lawsuits.

Lawmakers have been vocal about their opposition to Pendley, citing a history of opposition to federal land ownership and other controversial comments. Tuesday letters from conservation groups demand that the Senate ensure Pendley leaves the Trump administration. 

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“Trump’s decision to allow Pendley to serve in this important role without Senate confirmation is appalling and every United States Senator who has not taken a stand and should have had a say in Pendley’s nomination must join us in demanding that Trump fire Pendley now. Pendley’s anti-public lands record of listening to polluters instead of people, along with a history of making racist anti-Black, homophobic and transphobic comments have disqualified him for this role since day one,” the League of Conservation Voters said in a statement. 

A fiery letter from Montana Conservation Voters (MCV) saw the group reaching out to their delegation directly, questioning how Pendley could stay in his role without Senate blessing. 

“If you still consider yourself conservationists, then we call on you to demand that President TrumpDonald TrumpGiuliani used provisional ballot to vote in 2020 election, same method he disparaged in fighting to overturn results Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Fox News' DC managing editor Bill Sammon to retire MORE fire Mr. Pendley from his position as acting director of the BLM immediately. Anyone who is familiar with the U.S. Constitution knows this is wrong, and MCV will not sit on the sidelines as Washington politicians dismantle our democracy’s checks and balances action by action. Pretending that this issue is not one that is important to Montana’s outdoor way of life is an unfortunate consequence of not listening to constituents,” the group wrote, specifically calling out Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time McConnell says he's undecided on whether to vote to convict Trump Member of Senate GOP leadership: Impeaching Trump 'not going to happen' MORE (R), as Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster 50-50 Senate opens the door to solutions outlasting Trump's moment of violence Biden VA pick faces 'steep learning curve' at massive agency MORE (D) has already opposed Pendley.

Interior, which oversees BLM, has resisted those calls.

“Mr. Pendley continues to lead the Bureau of Land Management as deputy director for programs and policy," Interior Department spokesman Ben Goldey said in a statement to The Hill Monday. “There are no issues raised by the Vacancies Reform Act when it comes to the important work Mr. Pendley continues to perform on behalf of the American people.”

But Democrats have privately said they plan to continue to pressure the administration.

“The withdrawal of the nomination by the White House shows they know he can’t be confirmed and that he is overwhelmingly opposed. That dynamic hasn’t changed, and their retreat has shown that the strategy is effective. So we are going to keep ratcheting up the pressure until Pendley is removed,” a senior Democratic aide told The Hill.