Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Daines: Worries Over New BLM Director Pendley 'Overblown'

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines met with the Flathead Area Young Professionals at the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, August 12, 2019.

During Sen. Steve Daines’ stops in Missoula and Kalispell Monday, he was asked whether he supports the Bureau of Land Management's acting Director, William Perry Pendley. Pendley’s past support for the sale of public lands concerns many, but Daines called that concern “overblown.” 

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt late last month ordered Pendley, who serves as deputy director,  to lead BLM in an acting role. The former private property rights lawyer has a history of advocating for the sale of public lands. That’s been a cause for concern for environmental and sportsman groups as well as others.

Missoula House Rep. Marilyn Marler was outside of Sen. Daines’ event in Missoula Monday holding a sign that read "No Pendley, No land transfers." Marler says she’s heard Daines say that he opposes selling public lands, but, “I hear a mixed message because actions speak louder than words, and I don’t see him opposing the Pendley appointment.”

Inside, Daines deflected a question about his silence on whether he supports Pendley.

“And you have a director, the Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt, who has been adamant in opposition of the transfer of federal land to the states. Remember, if he were to be confirmed, he serves underneath the secretary, who has been very clear, without stuttering, on this issue,” Daines said.  

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that BLM Deputy Director of Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley will undergo a Senate confirmation hearing. Pendley will not need to be confirmed in his position. 

Daines was pressed again at a smaller event in Kalispell later Monday, but he said he said he would refrain from voicing his full opinion until he interviews Pendley. 

"I’ve not come out against him," Daines said. "I’ll have a chance to interview him, make a decision, but I’ve not found a reason to be against him yet. But I have not come out for him either."

Daines called opposition to Pendley’s appointment "overblown," and reiterated that the right checks and balances will prevent him from selling off large swaths of public land.

Pendley is currently serving in an acting role as director of BLM, but he will not need to be confirmed in his  role as deputy director of the agency. MTPR reached out to Daines to clarify his comments, but did not hear back. Pendley's role as acting director is set to expire at the end of September. 

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information
Related Content