Trump nominates William Pendley to head Bureau of Land Management

Trump announced the nomination of William Perry Pendley to head the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Friday, The Hill reports

Pendley has been serving as the acting head of the BLM for some time now, after taking over as acting head in July of 2019. He has long opposed federal overreach and the outsize influence of radical environmental activists on public multiple-use lands, which naturally makes him a “controversial” pick for the position in the eyes of the left.

The controversy

Pendley has also written several books on his philosophy of government land ownership. In “War on the West: Government Tyranny on America’s Frontier,” he exposes the federal government for “using strong-arm tactics against Western land-owners and resource providers.” He also wrote “Warriors for the West: Fighting Bureaucrats, Radical Groups, and Liberal Judges on America’s Frontier.”

The most notable thing that Pendley has done — or at least the thing that has really attracted attention — is to advocate selling off the federal lands which he, as head of the BLM, will be managing. In an op-ed published in National Review in early 2016, Pendley noted, “The Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold. After all, jurisdiction over real property, that is, property law, was given to the states.”

However, he wrote later that he is committed to the Trump administration’s goals and had testified before Congress “that this administration is unalterably opposed to the wholesale disposal or transfer of public lands and that those were my views as well.” He also pointed out that he has since overseen multiple land acquisitions by the BLM.

Unappeased by this, however, certain environmental groups are upset now that he will be taking over full time.

“Any member of Congress who says they support the outdoors and public lands cannot in good conscience vote to approve this nomination,” said Center for Western Priorities Executive Director Jennifer Rokala, who released a statement on Friday following Pendley’s nomination.

A good pick

The Trump administration, however, is already working to counter this criticism.

The White House released a statement on Friday praising Pendley for the work he has done. It said that he “has worked to increase recreational opportunities on and access to our Nation’s public lands, heighten concern for the impact of wild horses and burros on public lands, and increase awareness of the Bureau’s multiple-use mission.”

Why now?

With this controversy in the background, one question to ask is why Pendley had to be nominated now? Why couldn’t he just continue as the acting head?

A large part of the reason would appear to be a lawsuit that has been filed arguing that it was illegal for the Trump administration to keep Pendley as a temporary head for longer than 210 days. This is the maximum time that a temporary head is allowed to remain according to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

We’ll have to see how this one plays out. But conservatives who are concerned about federal overreach should applaud Trump’s pick. He’s on the right track.

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