Great Falls, MT, October 17, 2020 – “Illegal directors make illegal decisions –it’s that simple,” said Nada Culver, vice president for public lands and senior policy counsel at the National Audubon Society. “Not only did the court make crystal clear that these specific plans are invalid but the court also emphasized the likelihood that other decisions made by Pendley around the country are similarly invalid.”

Greater Sage-Grouse. Photo: Evan Barrientos/Audubon

Last night’s ruling by the United States District Court for the District of Montana Great Falls Division invalidated the Lewistown, Missoula and Miles City Revised Management Plans which would have opened federal lands to oil and gas development and compounded the risk to the survival of the Greater Sage-Grouse that this administration has caused.

National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation led conservation groups in a letter to the Department of the Interior calling for decisions made by Pendley to be reversed and a broader review of his actions conducted.

The court went on to write: “The Court emphasizes again the injunctive relief currently in place against Federal Defendants. (Doc. 25 at 34). The Interior Solicitor announced publicly that the ‘Department will comply with the Court’s Order.’ Other officials, including Pendley, appear more reticent in their acknowledgment of the effect of the Court’s September Order. The Court emphasizes again its previous finding: Only the Secretary of the Interior can perform functions or duties of the BLM Director.”

In a September decision, the court found that William Perry Pendley was illegally exercising the authority of the director of Bureau of Land Management. Neither the Department of the Interior nor the BLM have acknowledged any need to review the likely impact of  Pendley’s lack of authority on the management of the nearly 245 million acres of land and 700 million acres of mineral resources under the BLM’s purview.

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.