U.S. Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt has extended the tenure of the Trump administration's top steward of public lands, rebuffing Democrats' calls for his termination.
William Perry Pendley's role as the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management now extends to Jan. 3, 2020.
Pendley has been in the post since July. Senate Democrats, including presidential candidates Michael Bennet, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, called for Pendley's ouster over his longstanding support for selling public lands.
"As the BLM considers a major reorganization, there is no reason for this effort to be led by an acting director who spent his career attempting to dismantle the agency," the Democratic senators wrote in an ultimately fruitless letter to Sec. Bernhardt.
Pendley previously worked as a property rights attorney with clients including mining, energy and agriculture interests. Earlier in September, he recused himself from work involving dozens of former clients following conflict of interest allegations.
Bernhardt also extended the tenures of the acting heads of the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service. The secretary's order redelegated authority on a temporary basis to cover vacant presidential appointed or Senate confirmed positions.
“Each of these leaders is dedicated to their position, and I’m confident in their abilities to further the progress made by this administration in service to the American people,” Bernhardt said in a statement.