Fox named to administer hen house

A rabid opponent of federal land management has been put in charge of…federal land management. Of course he has.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Monday signed an order making Wyoming native William Perry Pendley acting head of the Bureau of Land Management. The bureau’s holdings are sweeping, with nearly one out of every 10 acres nationally, and 30% of minerals, under its dominion, mostly across the U.S. West.

Pendley, a former midlevel Interior appointee in the Reagan administration, for decades has championed ranchers and others in standoffs with the federal government over grazing and other uses of public lands. He has written books accusing federal authorities and environmental advocates of “tyranny” and “waging war on the West.” He argued in a 2016 National Review article that the “Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold.”

In other words he’s a fanatical “everything should be private property” crank, and he’s now acting head of the BLM. That’s cute. It’s kind of like making a Mafia boss head of the FBI, or a tobacco CEO head of the FDA.

In tweets this summer, Pendley welcomed Trump administration moves to open more federal land to mining and oil and gas development and other private business use, and he has called the oil and gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, “an energy, economic, AND environmental miracle!”

Conservation groups called the Pendley appointment an alarming choice, while Western ranchers called it a welcome move that shows the Trump administration is serious about opening public lands to all uses, including mining and ranching.

So that’s not really “all uses.” If you open public lands to mining and ranching then they’re no longer open to hiking and camping. If you open public lands to profit-making resource extraction then they’re no longer open to public enjoyment, and they’re also no longer open to the birds and reptiles and other animals that were living on them.

The Trump people have already moved BLM headquarters from DC to Colorado and spread employees all over the Western states, in what looks like a prelude to zeroing out the agency altogether.

An analysis of six new BLM proposed management plans by the Pew Charitable Trust, which calls itself a nonpartisan research center, for parts of six Western states found they significantly reduce protections that have been in place for decades and open up new land for mining and oil and gas. They include Alaskan lands known as nesting habitat for peregrine falcons and Montana rivers homes to the westslope cutthroat trout.

That’s ok, they can all just move to Canada.

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