Trump nominates controversial Land Management official for permanent director

William Perry Pendley oversaw the bureau’s move from Washington, D.C., to Grand Junction, Colo.

The White House has formally nominated William Perry Pendley to become director of the Bureau of Land Management, where he has served as acting director since August 2019.

Since assuming the acting position, Pendley has faced an onslaught of criticism from Democratic lawmakers and former government workers for relocating the agency’s headquarters to Grand Junction, Colo., from Washington, D.C.  Pendley justified the move as a common-sense decision that would put BLM personnel closer to government lands in the western U.S.

Former officials said the decision demoralized employees and could undermine the relationship that they had with Congressional staff and other agencies.

Democratic leaders decried Pendley’s nomination.

“William Perry Pendley has no business running the Bureau of Land Management. He is an anti-public lands extremist who has repeatedly made it clear that he does not believe in conservation at all,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said in a statement.

“He does not believe the federal government should manage our resources and public lands in a way that preserves them for future generations and respects Tribal sovereignty,” Udall said. “He has presided over an ill-considered and terribly-executed relocation effort, which is nothing more than a transparent attempt to undermine the very agency he oversees.”

In May, two environmental groups sued Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt, arguing that he had violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act by repeatedly extending Pendley’s tenure beyond the 210-day limit allowed for acting officials.  

“I commend President Trump’s intent to nominate William Perry Pendley who has been a leader at the Bureau of Land Management for nearly a year. He’s doing a great job, including acquiring more than 25,000 acres of public land for expanded recreational access,” Bernhardt said in a statement.

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