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Two Lawsuits Still Seek To Oust Pendley From The BLM

U.S. Bureau of Land Management

William Perry Pendley’s nomination to lead the Bureau of Land Management may have been pulled, but he’s still effectively leading the organization. Two lawsuits are still trying to put that to an end. 

Montana’s Democratic governor, and Senate hopeful, Steve Bullock filed one lawsuit to remove Pendley. And he’s now asking a federal judge in Montana to speed up a decision in that case. 

The Western Watersheds Project and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, filed the second suit. Peter Jenkins is a senior counsel at PEER, and says that while the lawsuits are needed, “the political case against Mr. Pendley is so strong that that may get resolved before the legal case."

The political pressure he’s referring to includes the tight Congressional races for Republicans in western states, like Steve Daines in Montana and Cory Gardner in Colorado. Several outdoors and conservation groups have come out against Pendley, possibly putting the Senators in a difficult position.

However, if Pendley isn’t removed, both lawsuits argue that his tenure at the agency violates the Constitution and the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. Under that act, this kind of vacancy can be filled by someone without Senate confirmation for a maximum of 210 days, or unless there is a pending presidential nomination. Pendley has been there for more than a year. 

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

I'm the regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau at Boise State Public Radio.