Bernhardt Extends Pendley's Run as Acting BLM Chief
Pendley will stay on as BLM chief through Jan. 3. Bernhardt also named David Vela, the former superintendent of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, as acting director of the National Park Service and Lanny Erdos as acting director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.
"Each of these leaders is dedicated to their position, and I'm confident in their abilities to further the progress made by this administration in service to the American people," Bernhardt said in a statement.
Bernhardt's new order comes amid growing speculation that President Trump may nominate Pendley for the Senate-confirmed position of BLM director. Though no announcement has been made, the secretarial order buys the White House time if indeed Pendley is being seriously considered for such a nomination.
His pending nomination for BLM director has been rumored for several weeks, with sources telling E&E News that Pendley had undergone a formal background check in anticipation of a nomination. And Pendley himself in the past couple of weeks has told some bureau officials that he "expected" to be nominated for BLM director, sources said.
Pendley, until last December, was president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, which was founded in 1977 to counter litigation from environmental activists. The foundation's first president was James Watt, who later became President Reagan's Interior secretary, and it counts Gale Norton, President George W. Bush's Interior secretary, among its former employees.
Source: E&E News