The Mountain States Legal Foundation under Pendley’s leadership has defended the federal government against environmental groups that challenged Interior in court; it also has challenged Interior, the Forest Service and others for regulatory overreach.

Scott Streater

E&E News

Conservative lawyer named to senior BLM post

The Bureau of Land Management has appointed William Perry Pendley, who until December was president of the conservative law firm Mountain States Legal Foundation, as deputy director of policy and programs.

Pendley started today, a BLM spokesman confirmed. The deputy director of policy and programs is the bureau’s second-highest-ranking political position, behind the director.

Pendley replaces Brian Steed — a former chief of staff for Utah Republican Rep. Chris Stewart — who left BLM in June for a Cabinet-level position in Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s administration.

Steed also served as de facto BLM acting director, though Pendley will not fill that dual role. Casey Hammond, the Interior Department’s principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management, is currently exercising all “functions, duties, and responsibilities” of BLM director through at least this month.

William Perry Pendley. Photo credit: @Sagebrush_Rebel/Twitter

“Perry brings a wealth of knowledge about the impact of federal land management decisions on the people and communities of the West, and we’re excited to have him bring his perspective to the Bureau of Land Management,” Joe Balash, Interior assistant secretary for land and minerals management, said in an statement to E&E News.

Pendley was in the running for the Interior secretary position last year shortly after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned.

A former Marine who served in the Vietnam War, Pendley describes himself on his LinkedIn page as a “Courtroom defender of liberty, author, and national commentator and speaker.”

Pendley is the latest top Interior official to hail from the Mountain States Legal Foundation.

The Colorado-based law firm’s first president was James Watt, who went on to head Interior in the Reagan administration, and Gale Norton, who served as Interior secretary in the George W. Bush administration, worked for the law firm.

A native of Cheyenne, Wyo., Pendley served as Interior deputy assistant secretary for energy and minerals during the Reagan administration.

The Mountain States Legal Foundation under Pendley’s leadership has defended the federal government against environmental groups that challenged Interior in court; it also has challenged Interior, the Forest Service and others for regulatory overreach.

The bureau has been a state of near constant leadership flux under the Trump administration. Hammond’s stint as an acting BLM director runs through this month, although Interior Secretary David Bernhardt could extend that period.

The White House, in more than two years under President Trump, has yet to nominate a BLM director for Senate confirmation.

Pendley is a prolific author. Among his books is “Warriors for the West: Fighting Bureaucrats, Radical Groups, and Liberal Judges on America’s Frontier.” It chronicles the efforts of Western state leaders and residents to fight environmental laws, according to a profile of Pendley from the Property Rights Foundation of America.

Pendley is also wrote “War on the West: Government Tyranny on America’s Great Frontier” and “It Takes A Hero: The Grassroots Battle Against Environmental Oppression.”

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