President Donald Trump will formally nominate William Perry Pendley, a self-proclaimed “sagebrush rebel” with extreme anti-environmental views and a long history of advocating for the sale of federal lands in the West, to serve as director of the Bureau of Land Management.
Pendley was tapped last July for a senior policy position at BLM, an agency of the Department of the Interior, and quickly elevated to acting chief. The backdoor appointment put him in charge of overseeing 245 million acres of public land — more than 10% of the entire U.S. landmass — and 700 million subsurface mineral acres. It also enraged environmentalists and sparked fears of a public lands sell-off.
Pendley, a native of Wyoming, is the former longtime president of Mountain States Legal Foundation, a conservative nonprofit that has pushed for the government to sell off millions of federal acres. He’s written several books about Western land issues, including one titled “Sagebrush Rebel,” a reference to the Sagebrush Rebellion movement of the 1970s and ’80s that sought to remove lands from federal control. In a January 2016 op-ed published by The National Review, he wrote: “Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold.”
The Trump administration has vowed not to dispose of public lands. Yet it has cozied up to members of the pro-land transfer movement and tapped several opponents of federal land policy for high-ranking department positions. Pendley has dismissedconcerns about his stance on federal lands and said his personal views and past statements ― including some that described climate science as “junk science” and comparing immigrants to a “cancer” ― are “irrelevant” to leading a bureau.