By Eric Tegethoff - August 13, 2020 - Originally published in the Public News Service - MT
HELENA, Mont. -- A chorus of voices is growing louder for the Trump administration to withdraw William Perry Pendley's nomination as director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Pendley's past as a self-proclaimed "sagebrush rebel" and his advocacy to sell public lands to states has put him in hot water with groups in the West.
Doug Krings is a board member in Montana for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.
"I don't know of any worse candidate for this job than William Perry Pendley," Krings said. "Just his track record of supporting the disposal of millions of acres of public land. He's the wrong guy for the job for something that we want to keep in perpetuity."
The Bureau of Land Management manages more than eight million acres of public land in Montana, according to the Montana Wilderness Association.
Pendley has said he's set aside his personal beliefs and follows the administration's lead on policy as acting BLM director.
The policy of energy dominance has been the Trump administration's major thrust on federal lands.
Krings said Pendley has helped push this policy past the balanced approach BLM is supposed to take on managing public lands.
"Mineral extraction and timber harvest are all part of this puzzle," Krings said. "I feel like the pendulum has swung a little far when it comes to habitat destruction and extraction."
Pendley has been acting director of BLM for more than a year, leading to calls for a formal nomination process by the Senate and lawsuits from watchdog groups and Gov. Steve Bullock over his informal position.
Montana Sen. Jon Tester and others have called for confirmation hearings to start soon.
Krings says how western senators vote on his confirmation will say a lot about how they feel toward public lands.
"Public lands are a very important issue for Montanans as a whole, whether they use them for hunting and fishing or just recreation, bird-watching, whatever," Krings added. "I'd say that it's going to turn elections in Montana."