Legislative and Regulatory Update
September 2020 by Scott Harn
• Pendley nomination withdrawn but will remain BLM director for now
The Trump administration has withdrawn the nomination of William Perry Pendley from consideration as the permanent director of the Bureau of Land Management though he will continue as acting director for the foreseeable future.
As explanation was not provided, though it’s clear that Democrats in Congress do not like his prior record of suing federal agencies when he was the head of Mountain States Legal Foundation.
The agency is set up so that the deputy director of policy and programs, which is currently Pendley, takes the default leadership position when the spot is vacant. So, even though his nomination was withdrawn, Pendley can remain as the agency director while a more permanent director is sought.
After joining the government, he declared that his past support for selling public lands was irrelevant because his boss, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, opposes the wholesale sale of public lands. Since Pendley’s arrival, agency officials said the bureau has acquired more than 25,000 acres of land and sought to expand recreational access.
Pendley also recused himself from work involving dozens of former clients following conflict of interest allegations from Democrats and environmentalists. The former clients ranged from farming and mining organizations to energy companies.
• Comments needed for Midas Gold project in Idaho
The US Forest Service published the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for three open-pit gold mines proposed by Midas Gold that are planned for an area about 40 miles east of McCall, Idaho.
Comments are due by October 13, 2020, and miners are encouraged to provide constructive comments. The DEIS is available on the Internet at www.midasgoldidaho.com/news/deis-released/
The settlement did not grant an immediate approval for the project, but it did begin to clear the way for the company to apply for federal permits—a path the Obama administration previously had thwarted.
I hope this case inspires some of you. It shows that miners can and do succeed when they are persistent and well-prepared, even when representing themselves against state and federal attorneys in a court of law.
• EPA rule blocked
Within these districts, some of the roads and trails have been reopened for access, critical habitat designations have been scaled back, and a few Mining Districts were completely removed from proposed withdrawals.
The ESA has become an unwieldy beast that was hijacked by government agencies run amok, and by extreme environmental groups who saw it as a way to lock up public lands and to generate income through exaggerated claims and continuous lawsuits.
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