Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley rides a bike in Moab, Utah

BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley rides a bike in Moab, Utah on October 25, 2019. (Photo: Eric Coulter, BLM, CC BY 2.0)

Following Outrage, Trump Pulls Nomination of "Unapologetic Racist' William Perry Pendley to Oversee Nation's Public Lands

"Pendley never should have been nominated, and the fact that he was shows you what you need to know about this administration's conservation priorities."

Environmental campaigners on Saturday welcomed news that President Donald Trump withdrew his nomination of "pro-polluter" and "unapologetic racist" William Perry Pendley for director of the Bureau of Land Management, with groups saying he should no longer be allowed to continue in his role as unofficial head of the agency.

Pendley, who's called fracking an "environmental miracle," was panned by civil rights, environmental, tribal, and immigrant advocacy groups as "the worst possible person you could conjure to be a leading steward of our shared public lands" given his public record that includes a history of racist and sexist comments, "overt racism" toward native people, dismissal of the climate ciris, suggestion that "the Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold," and a 17-page list of 57 potential conflicts of interest.

"Pendley never should have been nominated, and the fact that he was shows you what you need to know about this administration's conservation priorities," Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said in a statement Saturday.

Trump formally nominated Pendley in June to lead BLM, an agency within the Interior Department (DOI). However, he has been overseeing—to the outrage of progressive groups—BLM for over a year, with the agency's website describing him as "exercising authority of the director."

Outdoor Life first reported on the news of the withdrawal.

Interior spokesperson Nicholas Goodwin confirmed the nomination withdrawal to The Hill but provided no explanation for the decision. "The president makes staffing decisions. Mr. Pendley continues to lead the Bureau of Land Management as Deputy Director for Programs and Policy," Goodwin said.  

Critics of Pendley responded to the news with fresh attacks on his record.

According to Lena Moffitt, director of the Sierra Club's Our Wild America campaign, "Pendley's tenure as head of the Bureau of Land Management, like the entire Trump administration, has been a disaster for our public lands. At best, he's demonstrated a total disregard for the health of our communities and our wild places, prioritizing giveaways to polluting fossil fuel corporations. At worst, he actively worked against marginalized communities."

Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, suggested the withdrawal simply represents the administration seeing Pendley as unlikely to be confirmed by the Senate.

"Unfortunately, the ignominious end of Pendley's nomination is more of a cynical nod to political realities than a retreat from the nihilist ideology he championed—and provides small solace for the communities and wildlife affected by the unbridled leasing of wildlife habitat and recreation lands across the West to energy development," said O'Mara.

Further dampening any reason for progressive applause is that Pendley is not yet ousted from his current role at BLM.

"This is a sham," tweeted climate scientist Peter Gleick. "Trump is withdrawing the nomination but leaving Pendley in charge anyway."

"Another unconfirmed, illegal appointment," he added.

Udall, in his statement, demanded that Pendley "not be allowed to continue in this role in an acting, unconfirmed capacity."

"It's time for DOI stand up for our public lands and our trust and treaty obligations to tribes," he said.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Biden Urged to Embrace Top Democrat's Call to End Deadly US Sanctions Against Venezuela

"The terrible suffering and death that Venezuela has experienced in recent years is overwhelmingly a result of economic collapse and deprivation caused by U.S. sanctions."

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·


Nina Turner Kicks Off '$27 Dollar Donation Challenge' After Hillary Clinton Endorses Establishment Candidate in Ohio

"While the establishment is doing everything they can to stop our movement," the progressive candidate said, "we will continue elevating the issues."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Progressives Push for High-Speed Rail Funding in Infrastructure Deal

"This is part of our overall goal to create millions of union jobs in the United States of America building climate infrastructure to bring down our carbon emissions, save our future, and improve our quality of life."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


'Great News': Biden Backs 2002 AUMF Repeal as Schumer Announces Vote on Repeal

"This marks the first time in memory that a president has called for the repeal of a war authorization, a significant step towards ending the forever wars."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·


Unions Demand Pelosi and Schumer Include Lower Medicare Age, Drug Pricing Reform in Infrastructure Plan

"Now is the time for action to lower drug prices and improve access to care for millions."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·