A federal judge ruled Friday that the acting head of the Bureau of Land Management has been illegally serving in his position for more than a year. President Donald Trump appointed William Perry Pendley, a former oil company attorney, to lead the agency in a temporary capacity on July 29, 2019, but the Senate has still not confirmed him to the post. Trump said he would formally nominate Pendley in June but later withdrew the nomination. While serving as director pro tempore, however, Pendley altered the chain of succession at the BLM, making his own post of deputy director the highest-ranking should the director seat go unfilled. He has since sought to open up wide swaths of federal land to oil and gas production. Brian Morris, a federal judge in Montana, blocked Pendley from continuing as the head of the agency. Montana’s Democratic Governor Stephen Bullock originally brought the suit.
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