Montana Public Radio

U.S. Department of Interior

A federal judge in Montana has ousted President Trump's top public lands official.

The ruling blocks William Perry Pendley from continuing to serve as the temporary head of the Bureau of Land Management, a post he has held for more than a year.

The judge ruled in response to a lawsuit filed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock who argued it's illegal for Pendley to lead the agency because he had never been confirmed by the Senate.

Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in central Montana
BLM (PD)

A lawsuit filed by Gov. Steve Bullock in federal court Monday alleges that Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director William Perry Pendley is violating federal law by exercising the authority of the bureau’s director while awaiting confirmation from the Senate.

Environmental groups filed the latest in a series of federal lawsuits against the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, this time challenging a permit to cross federal lands.

In a lawsuit filed July 14 the groups argue that the U.S. Department of Interior failed to follow environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act when it greenlighted a right-of-way across more than 40 miles of federal land in Montana earlier this year.

Map of Solenex Lease site in the Badger-Two Medicine near Glacier National Park
Courtesy Montana Wilderness Association

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. ruled Tuesday that a lower court was wrong to reinstate a contentious oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine area near the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and Glacier National Park. 

Mark Mariano does daily waterfowl observations rounds at the Berkeley Pit during migration season. October 2018.
Nora Saks / MTPR

The Trump administration moved forward Friday with plans to scale back a century-old law protecting most American wild bird species, despite warnings that billions of birds could die as a result.

Sage grouse.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Region (PD)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. judge has dealt another blow to the Trump administration's efforts to increase domestic oil and gas output from public lands, saying officials failed to protect habitat for a declining bird species when it issued energy leases on hundreds of square miles.

Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Matt Hogan, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Montana U.S. House Rep. Greg Gianforte listen to residents of the Rocky Mountain Front talk about conflict with grizzly bears, Oct 5, 2019.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be more involved in managing Rocky Mountain Front grizzly bear conflicts.

Keystone Pipeline pumping station in Nebraska.
Flickr user shannonpatrick17 http://bit.ly/2H4u5Kk (CC-BY-2) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration on Wednesday approved a right-of-way allowing the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline to be built across U.S. land, federal officials told The Associated Press, pushing the controversial $8 billion project closer to construction though court challenges still loom.

The U.S. House passed the National Defense Authorization Act today. That means the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Montana is halfway to federal recognition. But will the tribe’s land base include Hill 57?

Solenex well site is the last remaining oil lease in Badger-Two-Medicine.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Wilderness advocates and a Texas oil company agreed Tuesday to end an oil and gas lease on land considered sacred to the Blackfeet Nation. The settlement permanently removes all but one of the development leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area.

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