Mont. governor sues to block Pendley’s ‘unlawful’ tenure

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“Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has added his name to the growing list of those challenging the legality of William Perry Pendley’s authority to lead the Bureau of Land Management. Bullock’s lawsuit is similar to one filed in May by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Western Watersheds Project that also challenges the legality of Pendley performing the duties of BLM director.

The Montana governor is term-limited and is running against incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Daines in what recent polling indicates is a neck-and-neck race. Daines told E&E News last year that he would support Pendley if President Trump nominated him for BLM director. If Daines follows through on that vow, the Pendley vote could quickly become a major issue in the Senate race, Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor, said.

The lawsuit could also affect how other moderate Republicans on the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee vote, especially Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner and Arizona Sen. Martha McSally — both facing tough reelection bids in November. “Some senators also may be reluctant to confirm a nominee whose authority to serve in an acting director capacity is being challenged in litigation, which is likely to succeed,” Tobias said.

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