Trump Nominates Oil and Gas Ally to Manage Public Lands

by | Aug 13, 2020

The Trump administration announced its intent to nominate William Perry Pendley for Senate confirmation as permanent director of the Bureau of Land Management in June. An oil-industry lawyer, Pendley has long advocated privatization of U.S. public lands, which contain roughly a third of the nation’s minerals. In 1982, as a Reagan appointee, Pendley spearheaded the largest sale of coal mining leases in U.S. history. Evidence later emerged that he had attempted to rig the leasing process to let firms underbid for mining rights, which would have defrauded the public. As Trump’s BLM acting director for more than a year, Pendley has relocated most of the BLM’s 300 Washington, D.C. staff to offices in western states. The move forced out many career employees, and will make it harder for Congress as well as conservation watchdogs to monitor the agency’s activities. Status: On August 15, Outdoor Life reported that the Trump administration has withdrawn Pendley’s nomination, after failing to muster Senate support for a confirmation hearing.

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Amy Westervelt is the editor-in-chief of Drilled News, creator and host of the Drilled podcast, and founder of the Critical Frequency podcast network, named AdWeek's Podcast Network of the Year in 2019. An award-winning print and audio journalist, Amy has contributed to The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, as well as KQED, The California Report, Capital Public Radio, and many other outlets. She is the 2015 winner of the Rachel Carson award for "women greening journalism," and a 2016 winner of an Edward R. Murrow award for her series on the impacts of the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. In 2019, the Drilled podcast won the Online News Association's "Excellence in Audio Storytelling" award.

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Emily J. Gertz is senior editor of Drilled News. A longtime environmental reporter and editor, her work has appeared in HuffPost, Reveal, Arctic Today, The Guardian, Popular Science, Scientific American, Sierra, and more.