“It’s a natural fit for an administration as chaotic and corrupt as President Donald Trump’s that William Perry Pendley, who loathes America’s public lands, was picked last September, and reappointed in January, to manage them. The Bureau of Land Management, which Pendley now directs, oversees more acreage of the public domain than any other federal agency. Thus far, protests from outraged environmentalists—who view the move as “akin to naming a notorious arsonist as chief of the local fire department,” in the words of Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C.—have failed to disrupt his tenure.
At stake are 250 million acres of grassland, steppe, desert, and forest that BLM oversees, along with the agency’s 700 million subsurface acres, rich with oil and gas and hard-rock minerals. Pendley’s entire career has been about liberating the extractive industry from environmental laws, enabling companies to pillage the lands he is now entrusted to protect. If freed to denude the soil, poison the water, and foul the air, oil companies, gas frackers, and hard-rock mining conglomerates stand to make billions of dollars in profits from exploiting the BLM domain.”