Press Release

Nearly 200 groups call for BLM's Pendley to leave

William Perry Pendley, acting director of the Bureau of Land Management

William Perry Pendley, acting director of the Bureau of Land Management


Pendley unfit to lead BLM, must go, say 198 groups

-- Racial justice, Tribal, and environmental groups tell Interior Secretary that Pendley’s racist, anti-Indigenous, anti-public lands, and bigoted extremism make him unfit to continue leading BLM --

Today, 198 organizations, Tribes, and businesses sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt urging him to immediately remove William Perry Pendley from his role as acting director of Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The letter’s signers highlight Pendley’s “decades long record of inflammatory rhetoric and actions opposing virtually all issues of social justice and diversity, opposing Tribes efforts to protect sacred sites and mocking indigenous religious beliefs, virtually unprecedented conflicts of interest and ethical issues, and embrace of radical anti-conservation positions including advocating for the sale of public lands.”

The White House formally withdrew Pendley from consideration yesterday. 

After illegally serving as Acting Director of BLM since July 2019, Pendley was formally nominated by the Trump Administration on June 30, 2020. The nomination was rescinded after swift backlash from over 300 organizations, Tribes, and businesses and the entire Senate Democratic caucus. The entire caucus has also urged Secretary Bernhardt to remove Pendley. 

Below, please find select quotes from signers of the letter. A document detailing his history can be found here.

Hilary Shelton, Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau & the Senior VP for Policy and Advocacy

“The US Senate confirmation process is meant to sort out whether federal administrative nominees are fit to hold crucial positions of public trust. William Perry Pendley was so unfit that his nomination never came before the Senate for a vote. However, the Trump administration has now rigged the system to keep him running the Bureau of Land Management anyway.  Pendley has a demonstrated record of bigoted and racist extremism; his record and his policy positions pose a threat to communities of color and the public lands that belong to all of us. It is a moral failure that the Trump Administration has let Pendley stay in this position of power. Secretary Bernhardt must show him the door now. America can do much better than this. The Trump administration must make it clear that no one established to be as bigoted and extreme as William Perry Pendley has a place in our government.”

John Echohawk, Pawnee, Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund

“No one who has mocked Native American religious beliefs, undermined Native access to sacred lands, and cozied up to anti-public lands extremists should be allowed to lead a federal agency--especially not one that is legally required to consult with tribal governments. In letting William Perry Pendley continue to serve as acting director, Secretary Bernhardt is failing his commitment to Native communities. Pendley’s extremist and racist views could not get past the Senate because he is unfit for public service. Bernhardt must remove Pendley from this crucial position at once.”

Ángel Peña, Executive Director of the Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project 

“William Perry Pendley’s nomination to lead the Bureau of Land Management was pulled for a reason: his history of racism and advocacy for the disposal of public lands make him clearly unfit for this position. Our public lands are where Latinx communities across the country come to relax with friends and family and for respite from the pandemic. Leaving a bigoted extremist who wants to sell so many of these lands in charge is deeply unsettling and unacceptable. The confirmation procedures that Secretary Bernhardt ignored exist to ensure people like William Perry Pendley do not slip through the cracks and are instead held responsible and accountable. Yet Pendley is still in charge of our public lands despite the law and despite his dangerous record. Bernhardt must remove Pendley from his position immediately.”

Dan Hartinger, Government Relations Director of The Wilderness Society

William Perry Pendley comes from the ideological fringes of society and if he cannot be confirmed by the Senate, then he is constitutionally unfit to serve. Pendley is a radical extremist and a racist with values that are deeply out of touch with the mainstream, including selling the very lands he’s charged with managing. He’s the worst possible person you could conjure to be a leading steward of our shared public lands, and his appointment betrays this administration’s approach to conservation. This story must end with Sec. Bernhardt removing Pendley from federal service.