FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Daines has previously expressed support for Pendley despite him having “argued for selling off almost all public lands” and facing opposition from “more than 100 conservation organizations,” including multiple Montana groups. Greg Gianforte – who notoriously sued the state of Montana to block access to a popular fishing hole – also refused to take a stand on Pendley, despite boasting a cozy relationship with the Administration.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Montana candidates draw distinctions on support of BLM nominee
By: Perrin Stein
President Donald Trump’s nomination of William Pendley as director of the Bureau of Land Management has become a flashpoint in Montana’s upcoming election.
The Senate confirmation process could put Republican Sen. Steve Daines, who is facing a competitive reelection bid against Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, in a difficult position as he works to emphasize his conservation record while also supporting the White House.
When asked whether Daines would vote for or against Pendley’s nomination, his spokesperson Katie Schoettler called the focus on Pendley “an election year, political stunt.”
Pendley has served as the BLM’s acting director for about a year. Trump’s nomination in late June kicked off the formal Senate confirmation process, which includes consideration by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which Daines is a member.
Several conservation groups and Democratic lawmakers have opposed Pendley, maintaining he has supported the sale of public lands and lobbied for the oil and gas industry.
Conservation groups have recognized Tester and Daines for backing the Great American Outdoors Act, adding, however, that Daines could lose their support if he votes to confirm Pendley as BLM director.
Montana Conservation Voters urged him not to confirm Pendley in a recent news release.
“If Sen. Daines wants to be a conservation champion as he claims to be, he will listen carefully to the concerns Montanans have raised about Mr. Pendley’s long record of support for selling off our public lands and overturning Montana’s stream access law,” deputy directory Whitney Tawney said.
Kayje Booker, with the Montana Wilderness Association, said Pendley is the wrong person to serve as BLM director and called on Daines to vote against him.
“As a member of the committee that will take the first vote to confirm Pendley, Sen. Steve Daines now has a choice,” Booker said in a statement. “He can either support his constituents and our outdoor way of life, or he can vote in support of a man and an ideology that pose a monumental threat to us and America’s public land.”
Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, a Democrat running for governor, has also opposed Pendley. In recent weeks, he has highlighted his long-term advocacy for public lands and released a plan to bolster existing public access programs and defend against efforts to limit funding and oversight.
Cooney has called on his opponent, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, to speak out against Pendley.
Gianforte said in an interview on Tuesday that he has worked to keep public lands in public hands and will continue to do so. If elected as governor, he said he would strive to increase access to public lands for recreation and would prioritize local voices in his decision-making.
When asked whether he supports Pendley, Gianforte said the decision to confirm him rests with the Senate.
“I will say that having worked with Sonny Perdue (in the U.S. Department of Agriculture), with Dave Bernhardt (in the U.S. Department of the Interior), I have been very pleased with the Trump administration appointments and their responsiveness to Montana issues,” Gianforte said. “I haven’t had the opportunity to work directly with Mr. Pendley, but again, he will report up into Dave Bernhardt who has taken a special interest in Montana.”
Share this Post