Thursday, October 22, 2020

Judge invalidates ousted Bureau of Land Management chief's decisions in Montana; could set precedent elsewhere

"A federal judge in Montana has once again handed the Bureau of Land Management and its embattled former de facto acting chief, William Perry Pendley, another major legal defeat," Scott Streater reports for Energy & Environment News.

Last week, Montana Chief District Judge Brian Morris ruled that three major land-use plans revisions in the state were invalid because Pendley had been unlawfully leading BLM for more than a year, Streater reports. All three of the plan revisions would have opened more federal lands to oil and gas drilling. 

The ruling could jeopardize the BLM's decisions in other states, Rebecca Beitsch reports for The Hill. Environmental groups have a list of at least 30 land-management plans overseen by Pendley they'd like to see reversed.

"Morris also issued what appeared to be a warning to Pendley and the Interior Department that they better abide by his previous order from last month barring Pendley from performing the duties of BLM director," Streater reports.

The ruling is another coup for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, whose lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service forced the agency to reverse recent changes that slowed mail delivery nationwide. Bullock filed suit against the BLM in July, Streater writes.

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