William Perry Pendley was nominated to lead the Bureau of Land Management in June 2019 by President Donald Trump. Pendley’s statements in favor of selling the federal public land and his past support for Cliven Bundy who led the largest armed standoff against the federal government in 2014 for the use of public land, both of these controversial past acts stand against him. A mainstream candidate for Land Management with a past record of being against the public land would have risked the President’s campaign drastically.
If polls were to be looked at then there has been consistent support from the nation towards the federal ownership of Public lands owing to their natural resources and the environmental and recreational values. Contrary to his previous statements, Pendley insisted that he had no plans to transfer or sell off the public lands.
There has been consistent pressure from both Democrats and Environmentalists for Pendley to step down of his current leadership role at the Bureau of Land Management. In fact, there have been two federal lawsuits against the administration accusing them of keeping Pendley as the acting director at the Bureau of Land Management for a much longer time than what’s permitted under federal law. Pendley was leading the Bureau since last August and is believed to have got appointment extensions against the law.
With consistent controversies and pressure from all sides and considerable risk to the presidential re-election campaign, Trump’s administration is likely to withdraw the nomination of Pendley to lead the Bureau of Land Management. Since the discussion for withdrawal of his nomination came out, the New Mexico Democrat, Senator Tom Udall immediately requested his removal as an acting director of Bureau. He even pointed out the administration for even nominating him in the first instance. As per Tom’s statement, Pendley should have never been nominated. “The fact that he was, clearly shows you what you need to know about this administration’s conservation priorities,” he added.
Pendley’s nomination was always in doubt as there wasn’t sufficient support from the Republicans as well over Senate Energy and Natural Resources. Conservation groups have praised the withdrawal of nomination and have requested to select someone who has a better understanding and appreciation for public land. A few have criticized the administration even after the withdrawal. Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of National Wildlife Federation said that Pedley’s nomination in June and the withdrawal only after hundreds of Americans spoke out shows the wrongheaded priorities of the administration.