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Know the West

Lawsuit challenges acting BLM director’s Senate confirmation avoidance

William Perry Pendley had his tenure extended in early May.

 

William Perry Pendley, acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, right, has led the agency for more than 10 months without being confirmed.

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BACKSTORY
In July 2019, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt appointed William Perry Pendley acting director of the Bureau of Land Management. During a decades-long legal career, Pendley opposed federal oversight of all kinds. As recently as 2016, he argued for the privatization of public lands. (The BLM oversees about one-third of all federal lands.) The Trump administration has avoided the Senate confirmation process by letting Bernhardt extend Pendley’s appointment multiple times. As director, Pendley has relocated BLM headquarters to Grand Junction, Colorado, a move that employees fear will
disrupt agency functions (“How BLM employees really feel about moving West,” 10/14/19)

[RELATED:https://www.hcn.org/issues/51.17/bureau-land-management-how-blm-employees-really-feel-about-moving-west]

FOLLOWUP
On May 5, Bernhardt extended Pendley’s appointment for another month, meaning that Pendley has led the agency for more than 10 months without being confirmed. Now, two environmental groups are suing Bernhardt in federal court, arguing that this avoidance of Senate confirmation violates the Constitution and federal law.

Nick Bowlin is an editorial fellow at High Country News. Email him at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor