William Perry Pendley authored anti-environmental screeds for Lyndon LaRouche. Now he controls 10% of the U.S. landmass.
William Perry Pendley, a top Trump administration official in charge of managing one-tenth of all land in the United States, is a past contributor to 21st Century Science & Technology, a fringe magazine of the late cult leader, convicted fraudster and paranoid conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche.
Documents also indicate that Pendley attended a conference in 1994 where two of LaRouche’s associates called on anti-environmental groups to help kill Senate support for an international biodiversity treaty.
Pendley wrote two pieces for 21st Century Science & Technology in the early 1990s when he was president of the right-wing nonprofit Mountain States Legal Foundation. The magazine was part of a network of LaRouche publications and chock full of pseudoscience, climate change denial and wild conspiracy theories. Its website, which is still live, features sections on “Global Warming Fraud” and calls for bringing back DDT, a banned toxic insecticide. LaRouche embraced a frenzy of conspiracy theories, contending that Queen Elizabeth is an international drug trafficker, that AIDS is spread by mosquitos, that former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was a Soviet agent, and that the rock band The Beatles was “a product shaped according to British Psychological Warfare Division specifications.”
The magazine was also a go-to platform for the so-called “Wise-Use movement,” a group of anti-government organizations pushing to boost mining, drilling and logging on federal lands while deriding environmentalists as domestic terrorists. Pendley, a conservative lawyer with extreme anti-government and anti-environmentalism views, was a key figure in that movement as it gained momentum in the 1980s.
If you’re writing for 21st Century Science & Technology, you’re writing for people who really had some Nazi sympathies.
Freelance journalist Dennis King, on Pendley’s articles in a LaRouche magazine
Pendley joined the Trump administration in mid-July as deputy director for policy and programs at the Bureau of Land Management and by the end of the month was elevated to the role of acting director ― thereby sidestepping the Senate confirmation process for the top BLM job. He’s one of many high-ranking administration officials across the government with a history of battling the very agencies they now run.
Pendley’s ascent came as LaRouche’s organization reemerged in national politics with a stunt aimed to embarrass those arguing for a Green New Deal, a sweeping federal policy framework for combating the climate crisis. Earlier this month, a woman working with LaRouche PAC appeared at a town hall meeting that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) held in her home district, pleading with the freshman lawmaker to consider “eating babies” as a solution to curbing planet-heating emissions.
The stunt, immortalized in a viral video, was widely mocked. But the beliefs that Pendley, 74, espoused in his writings have largely gone mainstream in the Republican Party. At least eight states across the South and Midwest have enacted laws to increase criminal penalties for anti-fossil fuel protests, according to the International Center for Not-For-Profit Law, which tracks anti-protest legislation.
The progressive political action committee American Bridge first found ― and shared exclusively with HuffPost ― Pendley’s previously unreported writings. But a HuffPost investigation surfaced more details about his ties to LaRouche, highlighting the degree to which once-marginal extremists now control key portions of the federal government’s response to a rapidly worsening ecological collapse.