The Senate and House were in recess most of October, except for committee business.
Pendley’s Position as Acting Director of BLM Deemed Illegal
Last month, Chief Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana ruled that William Perry Pendley’s role as acting director of the Bureau of Land Management is illegal. This ruling proved to have implications after Judge Morris made a second ruling that invalidated three Montana resource management plans – Lewistown, Missoula and Miles City – approved during Pendley’s tenure.
On Oct. 21, Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and others introduced the Public Lands Leadership Act, which would prevent the Department of Justice from protecting Pendley as the de facto acting director and appealing Judge Morris' initial ruling. BHA applauds this effort; we knew from the beginning that Pendley was unfit to lead the agency.
While Pendley’s authority to act as BLM director has been removed, he remains at the BLM as the deputy director of policy and programs until he resigns or is removed by the Trump administration. Judge Morris’ order does not have any impact on Pendley continuing in this senior role at the BLM, exerting tremendous influence and authority over management decisions including energy development and resource extraction.
Join us in urging lawmakers to ask the administration to remove Pendley from the BLM and review all actions administered under Pendley’s illegally delegated authority.
Tongass Roadless Lands to be Opened to Development
On Sept. 24, the U.S. Forest Service released its final environmental impact statement to advance efforts to repeal roadless protections from the nation’s largest national forest and the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest. On Oct. 28, the administration announced that it is officially repealing the Roadless Rule in the Tongass, stripping protections from over 9 million acres of protected old-growth forest.
BHA and the Alaska chapter oppose this ruling. We're disappointed the administration has issued a full repeal of the Roadless Rule, opening America's largest national forest to development for the benefit of a few and compromising the integrity of the world's largest intact temperate rainforest, despite widespread local and national opposition, including from rank and file BHA members.
The Tongass is the crown jewel of the U.S. national forest system. The 9.3 million acres of Tongass National Forest inventoried roadless areas comprise habitat for a unique diversity of sought-after game species, including mountain goats, black-tailed deer and both brown and black bears. The Tongass also encompasses thousands of miles of salmon-rich waterways, legendary among anglers and fundamental to the state’s commercial salmon industry. These valuable resources have been upheld by the Roadless Rule, a collaborative management approach that was adopted following one of the most extensive public engagement campaigns in the history of federal rulemaking.