Pressure Mounts on Gardner to Oppose Anti-Public Lands Climate Science Denier As BLM Head
Grand Junction Daily Sentinel Editorial: Pendley’s views “don’t square with running an agency responsible for managing multiple uses on 245 million acres of public lands and preserving them for the benefit of future generations”
Westword: Pendley “wrote that the ‘Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold’”
Denver, CO – The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel editorial board has joined the chorus calling out President Trump’s pick to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), William Perry Pendley, for his controversial views, including selling off public lands to build Trump’s border wall, opposing public lands and wildlife protections, and his long history of xenophobia and climate science denial.
While the Sentinel writes that Gardner has “no shortage of criticism at [his] disposal to question Pendley’s suitability for the job,” Gardner has repeatedly refused to answer simple questions on Pendley’s nomination for nearly a year. Now Coloradans are putting Gardner’s feet to the fire and demanding answers.
In a separate Westword deep-dive into Pendley’s anti-conservation and anti-public lands record, Gardner again refused to comment on Pendley’s nomination. Public lands advocates across Colorado are saying “there’s really no one less qualified to lead the BLM,” and calling attention to Pendley’s own writings making that case. Those include an essay titled “The Federal Government Should Follow the Constitution and Sell Its Western Lands,” in which he argued that the “Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold.”
By The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel Editorial Board | July 11, 2020
We were prepared, not too long ago, to endorse William Perry Pendley’s nomination to serve as director of the Bureau of Land Management on the cynical premise that no matter who is put in charge of the agency, the policy agenda is unlikely to change.
U.S. senators, who will consider his nomination, have no shortage of criticism at their disposal to question Pendley’s suitability for the job. His baggage is well-known. As president of the conservative Mountain States Legal Foundation, he consistently questioned the existence of public lands. “The Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold,” he wrote in a 2016 piece for the National Review.
As recently as January 2019, Pendley tweeted that the president could sell public lands to pay for the border wall.
These are views that don’t square with running an agency responsible for managing multiple uses on 245 million acres of public lands and preserving them for the benefit of future generations.
. . .
Pendley has managed to disqualify himself from the position. More disqualifying than his identity as a sagebrush rebel, in our opinion, are his views on the Black Lives Matter movement.
A June 29 story by E&E News focused on a 2017 column Pendley wrote in the Washington Examiner “in which he dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement as based on ‘a lie that spread like cancer through inner cities endangering men and women in blue and the citizens who look to them for protection.’ ”
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Pendley has been the face of a fringe movement against federal ownership of public lands, only to be nominated as one of the country’s chief custodians of public lands. He’s the last person who should be criticizing other movements given the incredible pass he’s received thus far over what many consider disqualifying positions on public lands policy.
By Nell Salzman| July 13, 2020
William Perry Pendley, who once wrote that the “Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold,” last month was officially nominated by President Donald Trump to become the director of the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which manages 247 million acres of public land, predominantly in western states.
Pendley has already been serving in that post on an interim basis for a year; the announcement that Pendley’s position could now become official has been denounced by environmental groups across the country.
“There’s really no one less qualified to lead the BLM,” says Jesse Prentice-Dunn, policy director at Center for Western Priorities. “He’s basically spent his entire career looking to undermine the agency that he’s now supposed to lead.”
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And from 1989 through 2018, Pendley served as president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, often suing federal agencies to challenge conservation regulations, including national monument designations.
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On November 7, 2013, Pendley told a columnist at the Washington Examiner that environmentalists “want a utopian world where they don’t use anything and deprive everyone else of affordable energy so they can’t use anything.”
During a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 7, 2014, Pendley said: “You can’t understand the battle against fossil fuels without understanding what is at the core of the environmental movement and these environmental extremists…they don’t believe in human beings. They’re not concerned about health and well-being.”
In a January 19, 2016, article for the National Review titled “The Federal Government Should Follow the Constitution and Sell Its Western Lands,” Pendley wrote, “The Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold. After all, jurisdiction over real property, that is, property law, was given to the states.” According to that piece, the Supreme Court had correctly and narrowly interpreted the Property Clause in 1984, holding that the clause gave rise to a constitutional duty to dispose of its land holdings.
In another article he wrote for the National Review, on September 25, 2017, Pendley argued that then-Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s recommendation that the Trump administration decrease the size of four national monuments was not far-reaching enough.
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Senator Michael Bennet has already gone on record against him: “I will oppose William Perry Pendley’s nomination to become director of the Bureau of Land Management because his policies do not reflect Colorado’s values and commitment to conservation. Someone who has spent their entire career opposed to the very idea of public lands is unfit to lead a land management agency.”
Senator Cory Gardner has not yet said whether he will support Pendley’s nomination; his office has not responded to requests for comment.
Regardless of whether he’s approved, PEER is concerned about what Pendley can do as acting director in the meantime. “He doesn’t even believe in the very fundamental tenet that we should even have national public lands, and now he’s going to be in charge of managing a tenth of the country,” Jenkins says. “It’s insane.”