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Conservation Groups Urge Rejection of 'Radical' BLM Nominee

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After acting as director of the Bureau of Land Management for a year, the Trump administration has formally nominated attorney William Perry Pendley to head the agency. (BLM)
After acting as director of the Bureau of Land Management for a year, the Trump administration has formally nominated attorney William Perry Pendley to head the agency. (BLM)
July 10, 2020

HELENA, Mont. - Conservation groups are calling on U.S. senators to block William Perry Pendley's nomination to lead the Bureau of Land Management.

Pendley has been the acting head of the BLM since July 2019 and is known as a high-profile advocate of selling off public lands to states, and for his anti-government views. Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation Frank Szollosi calls Pendley a radical choice that threatens westerners' access to public lands.

"Mr. Pendley's been out of line with Montana's values and Western values his entire career," says Szollosi, "and he can't sidestep that."

In a letter sent to senators yesterday, the National Wildlife Federation and its Western affiliates call for a speedy nomination process and to reject Pendley. They say he has prioritized oil-and-gas leasing above all else during his year as acting director.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement that Pendley "has decades of experience in federal land management policy as an attorney."

Szollosi says selling off public lands as Pendley has suggested would affect Montana's hunters and anglers for a long time.

"This is a generational threat," says Szollosi. "And Senators Tester and Daines need to be very clear about whether they support Montana's public lands and hunting and fishing, or whether they support Pendley's fire sale and privatization schemes."

Szollosi adds that Montana's public lands attract people from across the country. He says non-state residents spend $3.6 billion on their visits that help support the state's economy.

"To have the loss of public accountability for those lands, to have them privatized," says Szollosi, "it's a real threat, and one that we're taking very seriously."

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT