August 2, 2019 Read More →

Federal official says founding fathers intended for all lands to be sold

Washington Post ($):

President Trump’s pick for managing federal lands doesn’t think the federal government should have any.

This week, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed an order making Wyoming native William Perry Pendley the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management. Pendley, former president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, was a senior official in President Ronald Reagan’s administration.

The appointment comes as a critical time for the BLM, which manages more than a tenth of the nation’s land and oversees the federal government’s oil, gas and coal leasing program. Two weeks ago, Interior officials announced that the department would reassign 84 percent of the bureau’s D.C. staff out West by the end of next year. Only a few dozen employees, including Pendley, would remain in Washington.

After more than 2 ½ years in office, Trump has yet to nominate a permanent director for the BLM. By placing Pendley in charge of the agency, Bernhardt has installed a longtime crusader for curtailing the federal government’s control of public lands.

In the three decades since serving under Reagan, Pendley has sued the Interior Department on behalf of an oil and gas prospector, sought to undermine protections of endangered species such as the grizzly bear and pressed to radically reduce the size of federal lands to make way for development.

“The Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold,” he wrote approvingly in a National Review magazine article in 2016. “Westerners know that only getting title to much of the land in the West will bring real change,” he said…

…“By fixing this pivotal deal in 1984 — and getting away with it — Mr. Pendley may be one of the most important faceless functionaries in the expansion of coal use in the United States,” said Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, in an email. He said the report showed “a much wider pattern of high ranking employees and administration officials cutting deals with the industry without regard for laws.”

As a result, he said, “billions of tons of coal could come to market from the Powder River Basin for the next now 40 plus years at below market prices due to what was done at the time.”

More: Trump’s pick for managing federal lands doesn’t believe the government should have any

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