Senator Steve Daines has repeatedly claimed to be a strong defender of Montana’s public lands. But his actions, and his record after eight years in Congress, tell a far different story.
For over a year, Senator Daines has allowed one of the foremost threats to America’s public lands to run the agency that manages 250 million acres of those lands, including eight million here in Montana. William Perry Pendley, an outspoken advocate for selling off our public lands, arrived at the Bureau of Land Management more than 450 days ago and was put in charge.
Since Senator Daines is such an ardent supporter of our public lands, he must have stood up and opposed this grave threat to Montana’s public lands, right? Incredibly, he didn’t. In fact, one of the only things Senator Daines has said about Pendley is, “I haven’t found a reason to be against him.”
Really? Pendley opposed the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and he’s sued the people of Montana to repeal our prized stream access law (sound familiar, ahem, Greg Gianforte?). He also represented the oil company that wants to drill in the Badger Two Medicine area near Glacier National Park.
But not only is William Perry Pendley’s position at the head of the BLM a threat to our public lands, it’s also illegal. Less than a month ago, Governor Steve Bullock won a lawsuit against Pendley and the BLM. A federal judge agreed Mr. Pendley was unlawfully serving as acting director without Senate confirmation, as required by the U.S. Constitution.
And even still, Pendley won’t leave the BLM and claims to never have been acting director. But his actions in his tenure say differently. For one, Pendley ordered hundreds of thousands of acres of treasured wildlife habitat in Montana to be opened up to oil and gas development, land that generations have hunted on.
Senator Daines could be a leader on this issue. He could denounce Pendley’s position as head of the agency. He could push the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee to hold a hearing on Pendley. He could even just raise questions about Pendley’s extreme views.
But Senator Daines has done none of those things.
If we can’t trust Senator Daines to stand up to an anti-public lands extremist, how can we rely on him to protect Montana’s outdoor way of life? Senator Daines doesn’t get a free pass when it comes to Montana’s future ,and William Perry Pendley shouldn’t either.
Please call Senator Daines at (202) 224-2651 today and demand Pendley’s immediate removal from the BLM.
Whitney Tawney, a Montanan, mom, wife, hunter and angler, is deputy director of Montana Conservation Voters.