WASHINGTON — A conservative lawyer and writer who argues for promoting off the nation’s public lands is now in charge of a almost quarter-billion acres in federally held rangeland and other wilderness.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Monday signed an order creating Wyoming native William Perry Pendley acting head of the Bureau of Land Management. The bureau manages almost 250 million acres of largely wild public lands and their minerals and other sources in vast holdings across the U.S. West.
Pendley, a former midlevel Interior appointee in the Reagan administration, for decades has championed ranchers and other folks in standoffs with the federal government more than grazing and other utilizes of public lands. He has written books accusing federal authorities and environmental advocates of “tyranny” and “waging war on the West.” He argued in a 2016 National Assessment post that the “Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold.”
In tweets this summer time, Pendley has welcomed Trump administration moves to open additional federal land to mining and oil and gas improvement and other private business enterprise use, and he has known as the oil and gas extraction strategy recognized as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, “an power, financial, AND environmental miracle!”
The Interior Division appointed Pendley as the policy director at BLM, which manages one particular out of every single 10 acres in the United States and 30% of the nation’s minerals, in mid-July. It confirmed his appointment as acting head on Monday evening.
A conservation group known as Pendley an “ideological zealot” and pointed to the federal agency’s announcement earlier this month that it planned to move the BLM’s headquarters from Washington and disperse the headquarters employees amongst Western states.
Pendley’s “ascending to the major of BLM just as it is becoming reorganized strongly suggests the administration is positioning itself to liquidate our shared public lands,” mentioned Phil Hanceford, conservation director for The Wilderness Society conservation advocacy group.
Interior spokeswoman Molly Block disputed that, saying in an e-mail, “This administration has been clear that we are not interested in transferring public lands.”
Block mentioned agency management plans are created to enable for a variety of utilizes which includes power improvement, cattle grazing, recreation and timber harvest though guarding scientific, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archaeological values.
An evaluation of six BLM proposed management plans by the Pew Charitable Trust for components of the Western United States identified they substantially cut down protections that have been in spot for decades and open up new land for mining and oil and gas.
In a letter to the agency, Colorado’s Division of Organic Sources mentioned the management program for public lands in the southwest corner of the state do not do adequate to safeguard the Gunnison sage grouse, which is a threatened species, or migrating wildlife.
But Utah cattle rancher and county commissioner Leland Pollock mentioned the Pendley appointment is the newest indication that the Trump administration is returning BLM to its original mission of making certain that public lands are open to numerous utilizes. That consists of mining, ranching, cattle grazing, ATV riding, hunting mountain biking and hiking, he mentioned.
He mentioned the administration has produced clear to him and other folks who had pushed for state manage of federal lands that it has no intention of going that route. The 55-year-old is a commissioner in Garfield County in southern Utah, which has 93 % federally owned lands.
“He’s going to handle this issue just just the way it was supposed to be managed,” Pollock mentioned about Pendley.
McCombs reported from Salt Lake City. Linked Press writer Dan Elliott contributed to this report from Denver.