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Deputy Director for Policy and Programs, Bureau of Land Management

On July 15th, 2019, William Perry Pendley began his job as the Deputy Director for Policy and Programs at the Bureau of Land Management. The exact nature of this position is unknown. Pendley was appointed as BLM’s Acting Director on July 29th, 2019. 

On September 30th, 2019, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed a secretarial order to extend Pendley’s tenure as Acting Director through January 3rd, 2020.

[“Conservative lawyer named to senior BLM post,” E&E News, 07/15/19, “William Perry Pendley named to BLM post,” International California Mining Journal, 07/17/19, “ORDER NO. 3345 Amendment No.28, 07/29/19,” Bernhardt extends Pendley’s run as acting BLM chief,” E&E News, 09/30/19]

Biography:  

Before joining the Bureau of Land Management, Pendley was an attorney at law at the Pendley Law Firm from December 2018 to July 2019. He was previously the president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation from March 1989 to December 2018. Prior to that he was a partner at Comiskey and Hunt from March 1985 to March 1989.

Pendley previously worked at the Interior Department from 1982 to March 1984. Before being nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Energy and Minerals of the Interior Department in June 1983, Pendley was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Energy and Minerals. Before that he was Acting Director, Minerals Management Service, from 1982 to 1983. Prior to working at the Interior Department Pendley was the minority counsel for the Mines and Mining Subcommittee, Interior and Insular Affairs, at the U.S. House of Representatives from 1978 to 1981.  He was also a consultant to former Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman. From 1976 to 1978 he worked as a legislative assistant for Senator Clifford Hansen of Wyoming. From 1969 to 1973 Pendley served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Pendley was born and raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1967 and a master’s degree in 1968 for political science and economics, both from George Washington University.  He later received his law degree from the University of Wyoming College of Law in 1976.

[LinkedIn Profile for William Perry Pendley, accessed 07/22/19 “Biography: William Pendley Perry, Esq.,” Property Rights Foundation of America, accessed 07/23/19, “Nominations & Appointments, June 10, 1983,” , The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum, accessed 07/23/19 “PN318 — William Perry Pendley — Department of the Interior,“ Congress.gov, accessed 07/23/19, Wyoming Petroleum Section September 2018 Newsletter, accessed 07/23/19]

Special Interests

Mountain States Legal Foundation (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Pendley was the long-time President of the Mountain States Foundation, a "conservative counterweight to environmental groups' litigation efforts," funded by IPAA, Shell Oil and the Koch brothers.

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also connected to:

Background Information

Previous Employers

Additional Background on Employers of Note:

William Perry Pendley was “dismissed” from Reagan Administration’s Department of Interior after having “led the charge” for the highly-controversial Powder River Basin coal lease sale. The sale, then the largest sale of federal leases for coal, was marred by the leak of a confidential memo with information about bid amounts that ended up in unknown hands. Pendley was later criticized by the commission assigned to study the sale for sending a “clear signal” to potential lessees that DOI would accept low bids.

Pendley was serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energies and Minerals when 32,000 acres in the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming went up for bidding on April 28th, 1982, marking it as the largest sale of federal leases for coal at that time. In May 1982, it was reported that a confidential memo was leaked with information about bid amounts although it was unknown who had received the data or had released the information.

Pendley denied that the leak affected the sale and stated: “I never saw that memo, but even so, it was rendered moot by our decision to change the system.”

During a July 1982 hearing of the House Interior mines and mining subcommittee, 

Interior was criticized for having no paperwork that documented the decision to change the biding process. David Russell, then the Minerals Management Service deputy director, admitted “there is not a lot of paperwork” and that many of the decisions were made verbally. Pendley had been reported as serving as Acting Director for Minerals Management Service as recently as February 1982.

In February of 1984 a commission assigned to study the government’s coal lease program “did criticize by name two former [Interior Secretary James] Watt lieutenants, David Russell and William Pendley, who led the charge for the Powder River Basin coal sale in 1982 and have since been dismissed by Clark. ” The report stated the two had acted with “’undue haste’” by first changing the bidding process and then sent “’a clear signal’” that Interior would accept low bids in response to data showing that coal was declining. By the time the report was released, both Russell and Pendley had been dismissed by Watt’s successor, William P. Clark. 

Sources: [“Memo Says Interior Leaked Coal Sale Data,” Washington Post, 05/13/82, “WILDLIFE GROUP SUES TO BAR A MAJOR SALE OF U.S. COAL LEASES, The New York Times, 04/28/82, “SPARKS FLY AT HOUSE PANEL HEARING ON INTERIOR HANDLING OF COAL SALE,” Inside Energy, 07/19/82, “AT SENATE HEARING, WATT RESURRECTS PLAN TO REORGANIZE BUREAU OF MINES,” Inside Energy, 02/01/82, “Foundation that launched Interior chiefs Watt,” Norton doubles down on litigation,” E&E News, 01/02/14,  “Interior Panel ReportsWashington Post, 02/17/84]

In 1983, William Perry Pendley’s nomination as DOI’s Assistant Secretary for Energy and Minerals failed after Pendley was questioned in his nomination hearing about DOI politically screening scientists advising the department about oil and gas drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf.

On June 10th, 1983, then President Ronald Reagan announced he would nominate Pendley, then-Deputy Secretary of Energy and Minerals at Interior, to be Assistant Secretary for Energy and Minerals. 

In a July 21st vote of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Dale Bumpers of Arkansas voted against the Pendley nomination. While Bumpers had initially “’saw no reason’” not to vote for Pendley when the two met, the Senator changed his mind after reading Pendley’s responses to written questions. Bumpers specifically cited concerns about screenings of potential members for a board of scientists that would advise Interior about oil and gas drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf and that Interior’s response about whether it conducted political screenings was that the department had ”’looked for information but did not find it.’’’ When Bumpers asked Pendley about whether political screenings would continue, Pendley responded that Interior would “continue to seek ‘highly qualified’ people.” Bumpers then stated he could not support Pendley’s nomination. The committee would go on to approve the nomination, but not without opposition.

According to Congress.gov, on August 4th the confirmation was reported as failed for confirmation under “paragraph 6 of Rule XXXI of the Standing Rules of the Senate.” Rule XXXI is “EXECUTIVE SESSION – PROCEEDINGS ON NOMINATIONS” and paragraph 6 states that should the Senate take a recess of more than 30 days then any pending nominations that were not acted upon at the time of adjournment would be returned to the President. The nomination was returned on August 8th, 1983. Pendley left Interior in March 1984.

Source: [“Reagan to Nominate Assistant Interior Secretary,” Associated Press, 06/10/83, PN318 — William Perry Pendley — Department of the Interior,” Congress.gov, accessed 07/23/19, “PENDLEY SHARPLY QUESTIONED ON ROYALTY MANAGEMENT AT CONFIRMATION HEARING,” Inside Energy, 07/18/83, “Federal Lands,” Inside Energy, 07/25/83, “Washington News, United Press International, 07/21/83, “RULES OF THE SENATE,” United States Senate Committee on Rules & Administration, accessed 07/25/19, LinkedIn Profile for William Perry Pendley, accessed 07/22/19]

William Perry Pendley ran the Pendley Law Firm with his wife, but represented no clients.

After Pendley left MSLF, he established the Pendley Law Firm with his wife before he joined BLM on July 15th, 2019. Pendley did not represent any clients with the law firm, which also generated no income for him. The firm “remains on inactive status,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

[“BLM boss Pendley recused from Grand Staircase planning, but he remains listed as Utah counties’ attorney in suit,” Salt Lake Tribune,  09/26/19]

Political Connections

William Perry Pendley donated a total of $1,000 to Gale Norton, former Mountain States Legal Foundation attorney and future attorney at Brownstein, Hyatt & Farber Schreck and Interior Secretary for her Senate run.

Pendley donated three separate times to the Norton for U.S. Senate Committee, which was a committee for Gale Norton. At the time, Norton had been Colorado’s Attorney General and would lose the primary to then-Congressman Wayne Allard.

Before her run. Norton had previously been an attorney at the Mountain Legal States Foundation from 1979 to 1983 and had been an associate solicitor at the Interior Department from 1985 to 1990.  After her loss to Congressman Wayne Allard in the primary, Norton would be Colorado’s Attorney General from 1990 to 1999, a senior attorney at Brownstein, Hyatt & Farber Schreck from 1999 to 2000 and the Secretary of the Interior Department from 2001 to 2006.

Sources: [Search for William Pendley, Federal Elections Commission, 07/23/19, Gale Ann Norton Candidate Profile, Federal Elections Commission, accessed 07/24/19, “Former Lt. Gov. Norton mulling U.S. Senate bid,” Denver Post, 08/17/09, INTERIOR SECRETARY GALE NORTON WILL RESIGN,” South Florida Sun Sentinel, 03/11/06

William Perry Pendley donated a total of $1,000 to Jim Webb’s US Senate race in 2006. 

On March 27th, 2006, Pendley donated a total of $1,000 to James Webb for US Senate, which was a candidate committee for Webb’s Senate run in 2006. Webb, a former Republican, went on to win over the then-Republican nominee, George Allen, who had been caught on video call a volunteer a racial slur during the campaign.

Sources: [Statement of organization for James Webb for Senate, Federal Elections Commission 12/2016, Search for William Pendley, Federal Elections Committee, 07/23/19, “Virginia Democrat Opts to Stop at One Senate Term,” New York Times, 02/09/11]

In 2006, William Perry Pendley wrote that Virginia Senator Jim Webb took a “courageous stand on racial preferences” for claiming his ancestors shared “the socio-economic status” of the African-American descendants of slaves in the region.

In response to an article in The American Spector that discussed the Democratic Party’s primary decision for the Virginia US Senate election in 2006, Pendley wrote a letter to defend Jim Webb, the then-Democratic nominee., saying “If James Webb is rejected by Virginia voters, it will have been Webb’s courageous stand on racial preferences that did him in. Webb’s first non-fiction book, Born Fighting, reveals that his ancestors in the south share the socio-economic status of African Americans from the region; hence, Webb’s question, why racial preferences for all but whites who are presumed by the nation’s elite to be rich?” 

Sources: [William Perry Pendley Letter, American Spectator, 06/14/06, “Virginia Democrat Opts to Stop at One Senate Term,” New York Times, 02/09/11] 

Financials

Financial Disclosure for William Perry Pendley

[Office of Government Ethics]

 

In October, 2018, Pendley received a $1500 honorarium from the Property Rights Foundation of America, a group that “works to protect and restore private property rights.”

[Pendley 278e; Property Rights Foundation of America website, accessed 10/2/2019]

 

Pendley drew a salary of $224,370 from the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a group  founded “in support of what it called a ‘sagebrush rebellion’ by Western land, mining and water interests against Federal policies, the foundation has moved into broad questions of constitutional law, just as many of its aggressive young lawyers have moved on to join the Reagan Administration.” 

On or before September 12, 2019, Pendley also received a payout of $324,000 from the Mountain States Legal Foundation. 

Beginning April 3, 2025, Pendley will begin receiving lifelong payments from the Mountain States Legal Foundation as part of a charitable gift annuity valued at between $250,000 and $500,000.

[Pendley 278e; New York Times, 07/28/85]

Other Information

William Perry Pendley wrote a column that called for revoking monument designations and concluded that the Antiquities Act should be repealed.

On February 1st, 2017, Pendley wrote a column in the Washington Examiner that said Trump could “rob President Obama of his sole surviving legacy” by “vacating two national monuments designated by Obama in 2016 and an especially egregious one designated by President Clinton in 1996.” Pendley then describes the history of the Antiquities Act, and claimed: “Obama thumbed his nose at all Utahns with his 1.35 million-acre Bear Ears National Monument.”

Pendley claimed that Trump had the ability without question to “vacate the actions of his predecessors” and that both “Clinton and Obama far exceeded their authority under the Antiquities Act.”

The opinion piece concluded: “Meanwhile, Congress should repeal the Antiquities Act to prevent lawlessness by any future president who views rural Americans with disdain.” 

Source: [“Trump should undo two of Obama’s illegal national monuments.” Washington Examiner, 02/01/17] 

William Perry Pendley repeatedly called for repealing the Antiquities Act on his Twitter account.

Pendley’s Twitter account (@Sagebrush_Rebel) has multiple quote tweets where he explicitly calls for repealing the Antiquities Act.

On March 11th, 2019, Pendley quote tweeted another user discussing updating the Antiquities Act and wrote: “Repeal it. It made sense in 1906, but did not make sense after 1977.”

Source: [“How faith, medical progress, a dedicated surgeon, and a western hospital saved my life,” Washington Examiner, 05/01/19, Tweet by William Perry Pendley, accessed 03/11/19]

On March 28th, 2019, Pendley quote tweeted another user discussing revising the Antiquities Act and wrote: “Don’t revise. Repeal!”

Source: [“How faith, medical progress, a dedicated surgeon, and a western hospital saved my life,” Washington Examiner, 05/01/19, Tweet by William Perry Pendley, accessed 03/29/19]

On May 3rd 2019, Pendley quote tweeted another user sharing a Daily Caller article written by Rob Bishop stating “It’s Time For Congress To Reform The Antiquities Act” and wrote: “Not reform. Repeal!”

Source: [“How faith, medical progress, a dedicated surgeon, and a western hospital saved my life,” Washington Examiner, 05/01/19, “REP. BISHOP: It’s Time For Congress To Reform The Antiquities Act, Daily Caller, 05/02/19, Tweet by William Perry Pendley, accessed 05/03/19]

 

William Perry Pendley repeatedly criticized former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for not going far enough with his illegal monument reduction recommendations.

In September 2017, Pendley criticized former Interior Secretary over the monument reduction report. After the Associated Press found that Zinke’s report for reductions to national monuments excluded his home state of Montana, Pendley called Zinke’s recommendations an “optics problem.” He also said, “what the secretary ought to be sending to the president is a recommendation to repeal the Antiquities Act, to put an end to this issue.” 

Pendley would go on to write a National Review article later that month continuing his criticism of Zinke, saying the then-Interior Secretary was “a rookie agent” that had gone “rogue.” According to the piece, Zinke did not do as he was asked as he only reduced the size of monuments and “worse, he asked that the president do as Clinton and Obama did before him: that is, designate as national monuments federal lands that do not qualify under the Antiquities Act.”

The article expands on the criticisms of Zinke, including that the former Secretary “failed to recognize that the Antiquities Act long ago outlived its usefulness even while it remains capable of massive and malevolent misapplication.”

Pendley ends his column by calling on Trump to reject Zinke’s recommendations and to “ask Congress to repeal the Antiquities Act.” If Trump doesn’t, then Congress will have to take up its duty to make rules and regulations regarding United States property.

The following month, Pendley penned an opinion column in the Washington Examiner titled, “Ryan Zinke’s monumental disappointment in Montana.” Pendley called Zinke’s monument reduction recommendations “trebly disappointing” by repeating some of his previous Zinke criticisms.  

In a November 2017 article for Townhall, Pendley “laments that the Department of Interior seems to be botching a major overhaul of the land-grabbing policies of Obama and his predecessors.” According to him, “Secretary Ryan Zinke failed President Trump three ways…He failed to revoke any federal-monument designations, even after admitting that several were illegal. He recommended that only four be reduced in size and the rest amended to permit economic use, which environmental groups will sue to stop. And he urged that Trump use the Antiquities Act of 1906 as Clinton and Obama did, that is, by illegally closing federal lands, including a Reagan-era oil and gas lease in Montana that poses a political problem for Zinke.”

Sources: [“US Interior chief wants smaller monuments, but not at home,” Associated Press, 09/27/17, “Trump Wants to Free Up Federal Lands, His Interior Secretary Fails Him,” National Review, 09/25/17 “Ryan Zinke’s monumental disappointment in Montana,” Washington Examiner, 10/02/17, “Mountain States Legal Foundation Fights for Justice From a Mile High,” 11/13/17] 

William Perry Pendley called the effort to protect the sage grouse an “imposition of a Draconian and illegal rule.”

In a December 2015 column for the Washington Times, Pendley outlined the history leading up to the Obama Administration not to list the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act. Pendley called the closing of mining on acres of land for sage grouse protection the “imposition of a Draconian and illegal rule that kills current and future economic activity.” 

Source: [“Greater concern for the sage-grouse,” Washington Times, 12/01/15]

In 2012, Pendley wildly claimed that the Fish and Wildlife Service relied on “incestuous” studies.

Pendley wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Times with the title “Killing Jobs To Save the Sage Grouse” where he claimed energy development was endangered in Sublette County, Wyoming which he claimed has two of the largest naturally produced gas deposits in the United States plus family-owned ranching operations. According to the column, environmental groups were demanding accommodations for the sage grouse “regardless of the cost to humans and other species.”

The piece continues, saying that FWS’s “scientific findings” were not “reproducible” and that the agency had a growing reliance on studies “that are incestuous or self-serving (e.g., posted online by environmental groups) and for which the underlying data are never made public.” FWS’s greatest problem, according to Pendley is a conflict of interest, citing a recent sage grouse monograph where allegedly “41 percent of the authors were federal workers, and the editor, a federal bureaucrat, had authored one-third of the papers.”

Source [“PENDLEY: Killing jobs to save the sage grouse,” Washington Times, 05/31/12]

William Perry Pendley believes that the Hammonds, ranchers jailed for illegally burning about 140 acres of BLM land, were “wronged in a case of theft.”

For a July 31, 2018 column for the Washington Examiner, Pendley wrote about Dwight and Steven Hammond, father and son ranchers from Oregon who had been sentenced to five years in prison in 2015 for setting a fire that spread from their ranch that spread onto public lands. The Hammonds would be pardoned by Donald Trump on July 10th, 2018.

Pendley quoted The Wall Street Journal’s commentary on the matter, that said the efforts to drive away the Hammonds and other ranchers was because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) had “mismanaged water to let ranchlands flood.” He went on to claim the Hammonds were not the only ones “wronged in a case of ‘theft by flooding.’”

Source: [“Trump pardoned the Hammonds, but there’s more to be done,” Washington Examiner, 07/31/08]

Before joining the Trump administration, William Perry Pendley was highly critical of Trump in the Daily Caller and online, saying Trump “was not fit to pull off [Ronald] Reagan’s boots”, “[Trump] is no Reagan” and calling the Trump campaign “low information.”

In June 2016, Pendley wrote an opinion piece in the Daily Caller titled “Trump: The Polar Opposite Of Reagan.” Throughout the column Pendley is highly critical of Trump, referring to then-candidate Trump’s campaign as “low-information,” and that Trump “is no Reagan.”

Pendley asserts “Trump is not fit to pull off Reagan’s boots,” saying the latter had read widely and did extensive research before recording radio addresses or writing newspaper columns. The piece continues to praise Reagan, with Pendley stating “for those awaiting ‘another Reagan,’ the vigil continues.”

Pendley would tweet out his column in October 2016 with the comment: “Just saying.” 

Sources: [“Trump: The Polar Opposite Of Reagan,” Daily Caller,  06/13/16,  Tweet by William Perry Pendley, 10/15/16]

William Perry Pendley has praised the Trump administration’s environmental policies. 

In an interview with Townhall, Pendley said “ending the War on Coal was huge for the West,” specifically citing not only his home state of Wyoming but also Colorado, Montana and Utah. According to the article, Pendley continued his praise of the Trump Administration, citing its “decision not to micro-manage oil and gas fracking,” as well as the administration’s curtailing of the “Waters of the United States” rule and “an end to the job-crushing blunt-instrument trauma of the federal Endangered Species Act.” The same article noted he was “thrilled” about the elevation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Source: [“Mountain States Legal Foundation Fights for Justice From a Mile High,” Townhall, 11/13/17]

Endangered Species Act

In 1995, William Perry Pendley compared ESA policy to the federal government forcibly putting homeless people in people’s homes, calling it “the beginning of the end of the environmental extremism […] nobody has any [land] rights anymore.”

On June 29th, 1995, the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour had Pendley on as a panelist to discuss major Supreme Court decisions, which included on the Endangered Species Act. The Supreme Court upheld an Interior Department regulation that required private landowners to not destroy the private habitat of endangered species if that would lead to their death or injury.

Pendley was asked whether he agreed that to protect a species, then its habitat also had to be protected. Pendley responded that Congress had decided to the best way to save habitats was to purchase the property from the private landowner. Pendley continued: “What is happening to private landowners today under the Endangered Species Act would be like if the federal agencies came to your home tomorrow and said, we’re going to solve the homeless problem by putting them in your back bedroom, and if you do anything that disturbs their behavior, you’ll go to jail.”

A moderator then asked Pendley if Congress would be more determined to work on the Endangered Species Act. Pendley said that he thought this would be a case “the environmental extremists will regret winning.” He then said it was “the beginning of the end of the environmental extremism to the point that it says we want it all, we want everybody’s land, nobody has any rights anymore.” 

Source: [Transcript, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, 06/29/95]

William Perry Pendley called the Endangered Species Act “the pitbull of environmental law” that did not rely on “good science” and ignored people.

In December 1995, Pendley gave remarks to the 101st annual convention of the Northwest Mining Association. Among his comments, Pendley referred to the Endangered Species Act as “the pit bull of environmental law” that was a major issue because “it’s based on political science and not good science. It doesn’t consider people and it doesn’t take into consideration the fact that some endangered species can be common in one area and uncommon in another.”

Source: [“Public opinion more critical of environmental policy,” Business Wire, 12/07/95]

William Perry Pendley believes Denver and Colorado are “lawless on immigration.”

Pendley wrote a column about immigration that was published in the Washington Examiner on July 1st, 2019. Pendley wrote, “Thanks to a law signed by Gov. Jared Polis, all Colorado law enforcement officers are barred from cooperating with federal officials in removing dangerous illegal immigrants from our country.”

Source: [“Denver and all Colorado are lawless on immigration,” Washington Examiner, 07/01/19]

In November 2018, William Perry Pendley called peaceful Louisiana protesters “domestic terrorists.”

Pendley linked to a Daily Caller article about protesters attempting to block a pipeline in his November 12tht, 2018 tweet that said: “A return to the bad days in the 1990s when radical environmentalists sabotaged logging equipment and endangered the lives of working men and women in the Mountain West and Pacific Northwest. Shame on these domestic terrorists.” [Tweet by William Perry Pendley, 11/12/18]

In a 1992 speech to the Heritage Foundation, William Perry Pendley derided “‘environmentalism’” as “the last safe haven” for people who trusted “big government”  and denied the existence of a hole in the ozone layer.

 

According to Pendley, “‘Environmentalism’ is indeed the last refuge of the left, the last safe haven for those who trust, not the people, but big government, those who seek to place the power in the hands of federal bureaucrats.” Pendley continued, “no wonder the environmental message has became the cause of choice for the elitists of Hollywood. It should not surprise us that they have embraced environmentalism with the same self-righteous fervor as they once embraced socialism and communism.”

 

In the same speech, Pendley also added: “Despite the total absence of credible scientific evidence, the media is convinced and is attempting to convince us that we have global warming, an Ozone hole and acid rain and that it is all man’s fault.” 

 

Source: [“Senior Interior official denied there was an ozone hole and compared undocumented immigrants to cancer,” CNN, 10/08/19]

.

William Perry Pendley has repeatedly denied the existence of climate change.

 

In a 2001 column on the MSLF website, Pendley wrote: “People don’t have to shovel too much global warming off their sidewalk before they begin to doubt the sky-is-falling radicals who demand they we all but destroy our civilization in order to ‘save the planet.’ People are beginning to realize they have been deceived, lied to, tricked. They have.” Pendley would make a similar claim in a 2011 MSLF press release  by stating that “public support for the fiction of man-made climate change” was “at an all time low.” 

Source: [“Senior Interior official denied there was an ozone hole and compared undocumented immigrants to cancer,” CNN, 10/08/19, War on the West: A Call To Action,” Mountain States Legal Foundation, accessed via archive.org, 10/08/19]

William Perry Pendley has repeatedly linked the environmental movement in the United States with the fall of the Soviet Union and communism. 

In a 2015 speech, Pendley said”the left” had to find a new “issue” and that “it’s all about government control. I knew when the wall came down between the United States and the red Soviet Union, the red curtain came to the, uh, the iron curtain came down that the, that the left, the people who believe in statism and government control would have to find another issue. And they found it in global warming. They found it in environmental catastrophe.”

Pendley had previously made a similar argument in “Greenpeace Guide to Anti Environmental Organizations.” He’s quoted as saying “because of the collapse of communism, because the wall has come down, because the Soviet Union is no more…the environmental movement is the last refuge of people who favor government over people.”

Source: [“Senior Interior official denied there was an ozone hole and compared undocumented immigrants to cancer,” CNN, 10/08/19]

In 2019, following the Kavanaugh hearings, William Perry Pendley tweeted he believes sons are being threatened by a “rape crisis frenzy,” spurred on by President Obama.

William Perry Pendley tweeted on January 26th, 2019: “Hope so, but the ‘rape crisis’ frenzy should have awakened mothers to the Obama-driven unconstitutional threat to their sons on campus. Why They Fight: For Many Women, Kavanaugh Could’ve Been Their Husband, and the Covington Teens Could’ve Been Their Sons.”

Source: [Tweet by William Perry Pendley, 01/26/19]

In February 2019, William Perry Pendley tweeted “men who identify as women should not compete against women. It’s unfair, foolish, and wrong.”

Pendley quote tweeted another user on February 26th, 2019 with his own tweet: “A little science on why men who identify as women should not compete against women. It’s unfair, foolish, and wrong.”

Source: [Tweet by William Perry Pendley, 02/26/19]

Current Activity

Overseeing the Bureau of Land Management Headquarters Relocation

On July 15th, 2019, the Trump administration announced it would be moving BLM’s headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Grand Junction, Colorado. As the Acting Director of BLM, Pendley is overseeing the agency’s reorganization and move. 

In early September 2019, Pendley and other BLM staff held a staff meeting to answer questions about the relocation. Pendley made it clear that Bernhardt’s decision to move the agency was final, but was unable to offer details on topics including a timeline for the move, why employees who handled Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests were being moved West, or incentives for staff who chose to relocate. He also blamed Interior’s lawyers for urging caution regarding the move. 

In September 2019, Pendley testified before the House Natural Resources Committee to defend the BLM relocation. When confronted with concerns by BLM employees that Congress might block the move, Pendley said: “I knew two things: One, that Congress had decided to give us $5.6 million [for the relocation], and the secretary made a decision to utilize that to move. And so we’re on with the march.” Pendley said that although “It was a decision made before I got there,” “it’s a decision I fully embrace and that I intend to complete.”

Later that month, Pendley acknowledged that BLM staff who moved to Grand Junction, CO would see pay cuts based on the lower cost of living. And contrary to Pendley’s Congressional testimony that FOIA processing and other administrative functions would remain “in main Interior,” many of these jobs will reportedly be moving to Western states.

Sources: [“Bureau of Land Management Headquarters to Move to Colorado, Senator Says,” New York Times, 07/15/19, “’Sagebrush rebel’ William Perry Pendley embraces role heading BLM, Washington Times, 08/08/19, “BLM staffers rip relocation plans in closed-door meeting,” E&E News, 09/06/19, “How North Dakota’s oil and gas industry is turning the Bakken into their steady Eddie, Williston Herald, 09/18/19, “The BLM is finally doing what it should have done years ago: Go West,” The Arizona Republic, 09/23/19, “Inside the Trump Administration’s Chaotic Dismantling of the Federal Land Agency,” ProPublica, 09/20/19; [“Pendley defends BLM move on the Hill,” E&E News, 09/10/19, “How Bureau of Land Management employees really feel about moving West,” Colorado Independent, 09/23/19]

Conflicts of Interest Over National Monuments 

On September 24th, 2019, it was reported Pendley had recused himself from the legal battle regarding the Trump administration’s attempt to reduce the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Pendley had previously represented two Utah counties that had intervened on behalf of the Trump administration to defend the reductions. Pendley’s 17-page recusal list with 57 clients and current business associates was released on September 25th, 2019.

Sources: [“BLM honcho reveals long recusal list,” E&E News, 09/25/19, “BLM boss Pendley recused from Grand Staircase planning, but he remains listed as Utah counties’ attorney in suit, Salt Lake Tribune,” 09/25/19, Pendley Recusal List, accessed 10/02/19]

Criticism By Hunters, Anglers, and Environmental Groups

Land Tawney, CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers: “This shows where the priorities are within the administration. And to me, that’s a scary thing. So while his ascension [to BLM acting director] is ridiculous, it makes me worry about what their motives are. He has a history of wanting to sell or transfer public lands. He won’t be able to do that in his position. But what he can do is make decisions that make the management of our public lands more inept so that people eventually will say, ‘Yeah, we might as well just sell them off.’ It’s more about him monkeying with the system.’” 

Source: [“Does Trump want to dismantle BLM?,” E&E News, 07/30/19]

Phil Hanceford, conservation director for the Wilderness Society: “His ascending to the top of BLM just as it is being reorganized strongly suggests the administration is positioning itself to liquidate our shared public lands.” 

Source: [“Does Trump want to dismantle BLM?,” E&E News, 07/30/19]

Calls For Pendley’s Ouster By Twelve US Senators

On September 26th, 2019 , 12 US Senators signed a letter requesting Bernhardt terminate Pendley’s acting director authority. The letter stated: “As the BLM considers a major reorganization, there is no reason for this effort to be led by an Acting Director who spent his career attempting to dismantle the agency.” The letter was signed by Senators Bennet (CO); Udall (NM); Tester (MT); Heinrich (NM); Harris (CA); Feinstein (CA); Brown (OH); Sanders (VT); Merkley (OR); Van Hollen (MD); Markey (MA); and Hirono (HI).   

Source: [Letter to David Bernhardt, 09/26/19]

Montana Senator Jon Tester called Pendley’s appointment an “end run around the Senate’s responsibility to oversee and confirm federal leadership positions.” 

Source: [“Tester seeks answers from BLM appointee from Wyoming on past anti-public lands statements”, Billings Gazette, 08/08/19]

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet: The American people deserve better. Mr. Pendley’s views simply do not reflect Colorado’s values and commitment to conservation. Only this administration would allow someone like Mr. Pendley – who has spent his entire career advocating for the widespread sale of public lands – to lead an agency responsible for maintaining our nation’s public lands, and fail to put forward a permanent nominee for such a vital position. It is hard to imagine an acting director more at odds with how Coloradans think about our economy and western way of life. Mr. Pendley has no business leading the BLM.”

Source: [“Bennet Statement on Extension of William Perry Pendley’s Tenure as Acting BLM Director,” 09/30/19]

New Mexico Senator Tom Udall: “William Perry Pendley is unfit to lead @BLMgov— full stop. He wants to sell off public lands and eliminate wildlife protections, and he’s led @Interior’s efforts to transfer 500 acres of public land to President Trump’s border wall. All while stonewalling congressional oversight.”

Source: [Tweet by Senator Tom Udall, 10/02/19]

California Senator Dianne Feinstein: “I joined my colleagues to call for the authority of BLM Acting Director William Perry Pendley to be terminated by the Interior Department. His entire career has been spent trying to dismantle the very bureau he now runs. Our public lands deserve better.” 

Source: Tweet by Senator Dianne Feinstein, 09/30/19]