Rafters in the BLM-administered Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado in July 2015. (Bureau of Land Management)
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and all 47 of his Democratic colleagues in the U.S. Senate are urging the removal of William Perry Pendley from his leadership post at the Bureau of Land Management, following the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the conservative firebrand’s formal nomination to lead the public-lands agency.
A former head of the Lakewood-based Mountain States Legal Foundation, Pendley has led the BLM since being tapped by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a Colorado native and former oil lobbyist, to a senior role at the agency in July 2019. Pendley remains in charge despite the withdrawal of his nomination; while he has not been officially designated as the BLM’s acting director, he has been assigned leadership powers in his role as its deputy director of policy and programs — a tactic that has drawn criticism from congressional Democrats and lawsuits from environmental groups.
In an Aug. 20 letter to Bernhardt, Bennet and his fellow Senate Democrats called on the Interior Secretary to remove Pendley, who has come under fire for a range of controversial views, including his past support for the privatization of public lands, climate change denial and comments comparing undocumented immigrants to cancer.
“For the same reasons that Mr. Pendley is unfit to be confirmed as director, he is unfit to exercise the authority of the director without being confirmed, and we ask that you remove Mr. Pendley from this position,” the letter said. “The Bureau of Land Management requires a qualified leader who supports public lands and the bureau’s critical role in administering them for the American people.”
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