TUESDAY UPDATE: The Colorado Times Recorder’s Sean Price:
In a protest calling for the complete removal of William Perry Pendley from any position at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Progress Now Colorado, a progressive advocacy organization, used a powerful projector to beam the phrase “FIRE PENDLEY” on the building housing the office of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).
Gardner has avoided directly saying if he supports Pendley, whose nomination to lead the federal lands-management agency incited the ire of Democrats and environmental groups because of his past positions on environmental issues.
Last year, after he was nominated to take over the BLM by President Donald Trump, Pendley refused to say why he does not believe in global warming. Pendley also did not retract statements he made referring to the “fiction of man-made climate change” and calling climate believers “kooks.” In June Pendley wrote an op-ed criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and saying it was based on a “terrible lie.”
Michael Karlik of the Colorado Springs Gazette nabbed an interview this weekend with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, the Rifle-born oil and gas attorney who you’d think would be in the hot seat after a federal judge removed his subordinate acting Bureau of Land Management director William Perry Pendley from his acting directorship–but like most swampy denizens of Trump’s Cabinet, Bernhardt is unfazed and owning the libs:
Environmentalists’ “hopes and dreams are about to be crushed” if they think the court-ordered removal of the Bureau of Land Management’s chief will invalidate his actions, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt said on Friday…
He added that the groups’ “inflammatory rhetoric” is “completely detached from the reality of the legal process.” Bernhardt said he would abide by the judge’s order unless it is overturned, and has the authority over all bureaus within the Interior Department, including to manage the BLM in the absence of a Senate-confirmed director.
Pendley, he said, would continue to serve as the deputy director of policy and programs, the position he has held even while serving as acting director. The secretary maintained that the continued appointments of Pendley were “necessary and appropriate, and in my 20 years of experience with the Department of the Interior, these authorities have been used consistently and regularly.”
With Pendley’s titular ouster as acting director, Bernhardt has announced that a new acting director won’t be appointed, with Bernhardt assuming the responsibilities of BLM director and Pendley remaining with the same title he held while serving as acting director. If that all adds up in your head to Bernhardt and Pendley for all intents and purposes thumbing their nose at the judge’s order removing Pendley, leaving Pendley with all the de facto power he had before, you’re not alone–and Bernhardt did nothing in this interview to make anyone think differently.
As for “invalidating” decisions made by Pendley as acting BLM director, there are two potential avenues for that: via the courtroom, and at the polls in November. It may be at this point that the BLM will never have a Senate-confirmed director under Donald Trump–only a troubled legacy of questionable decisions to roll back.
Which should, we assume, make it somewhat easier to roll them back.