Erasing Pendley’s Anti-Public Lands Legacy on 6.25 Million Acres

William Perry Pendley’s tenure as acting secretary of the Department of the Interior was defined by his desire to take public lands away from regular people and privatize them. The Trump administration knew the Senate wouldn’t confirm Pendley to be our secretary of the Interior, so it kept him in power illegally for the final 424 days of his tenure. The state of Montana proved in court this was illegal, and the judge invalidated his policy actions in the state over that period. He may have continued to exercise the power of the acting secretary even after the court ruling, for a total of 542 days.

The judge only invalidated Pendley’s illegal policy decisions in Montana, but his influence spans far beyond Big Sky Country’s borders, and would harm wildlife, water, and public lands for about 20 years.

WELC is suing to overturn seven of Pendley’s decisions made while he was illegally running Interior. This one case has the strong potential to knock out bad policy on 6.25 million acres of public land. Here is a breakdown of the decisions we’re going to overturn with our court case:

map of places impacted by welc pendley fvra case. three in california, one each in nevada, idaho, wyoming, and colorado1: Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas Integrated Resource Management Plans (4.8 million acres, OK, KS, TX) – At risk: Public input, inadequate alternatives, water impacts, and climate impacts.

2: Moneta Divide Natural Gas and Oil Development Project and Proposed Casper Resource Management Plan Amendment (327,645 acres, WY) – At risk: Migratory Bird Treaty Act, sage grouse.

3: Tres Rios Areas of Critical Environmental Concern Resource Management Plan Amendment Record of Decision (80,000 acres, CO) – At risk: Failure to use best available science, no consultation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Gunnison sage grouse, Federal Land Policy and Management Act violation.

4: Dairy Syncline Mine and Reclamation Plan Final Environmental Impact Statement (2,767 acres, ID) – At risk: Phosphate pollution, administrative procedures malfeasance, privatization of public lands.

5: Central Coast Field Office Oil and Gas Leasing Resource Management Plan Amendment (725,500 acres, CA) – At risk: Inadequate alternatives, public input, undisclosed environmental impacts.

6: Ray Land Exchange Resource Management Plan Amendment (9,339 acres, CA) – At risk: Privatization of public lands, toxic copper mine pollution, inadequate National Environmental Policy Act analysis.

7: Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area of the California Desert Conservation Area (22,800 acres, CA) At risk: Removes protections, three non-competitive leases.



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Melissa Hornbein: Bio | Docket

Photo credit: Simon Foot, Flickr. Dolores Canyon, Colorado, was denied Area of Critical Environmental Concern protection by William Perry Pendley’s Department of the Interior.

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