Earlier this month, the Montana League of Conservation Voters put up an ad showing beautiful vistas behind signs saying “FOR SALE PUBLIC LAND.” The ad calls Pendley an “anti-public land zealot” and urges voters to “tell Steve Daines our public lands are not for sale.”
Pendley is BLM’s deputy director for policy and programs and has been acting as the bureau’s director since July 2019, overseeing the management of the nation’s federal lands.
The nomination was controversial because Pendley, who previously was president of the right-wing Mountain States Legal Foundation, had once urged the sale of federal lands. And at the foundation, he had sued the Interior Department on behalf of an oil and gas prospector, sought to undermine protections of endangered species such as the grizzly bear, and pressed to radically reduce the size of federal lands to make way for development.
“Good riddance,” John Bowman, managing director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Saturday of the nomination being withdrawn. “Pendley never hid his intentions to hand over the country’s treasured resources to polluters and should never have been nominated.”