The Trump official who manages US federal lands once denied there was a hole in the ozone layer and called environmental activism 'the last refuge of the left'

william perry pendleyA Trump administration official responsible for US federal lands has repeatedly doubted the existence of climate change.YouTube/Western Values Project

  • The Trump administration official in charge of overseeing US federal lands has a long history of controversial statements publicly doubting climate change.
  • William Perry Pendley currently serves as the acting director of the Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management. The Trump administration has yet to nominate a permanent director of the bureau.
  • CNN's KFile dug up several of Pendley's previous statements, including a 1990s speech in which he denied there was a hole in the ozone layer, though scientists had been documenting the thinning ozone since the 1980s.
  • Pendley was appointed to the job in July 2019, and immediately set off a firestorm of criticism for his past statements opposing the "tyranny" of federally owned public land and advocating for selling it off.
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The Trump administration official who manages some 250 million acres of US federal lands has a long history of publicly doubting climate change - even going as far as to deny in the 1990s that there was a hole in the ozone layer.

CNN's KFile documented a number of his past statements in a report published Tuesday, including several bizarre statements calling environmentalism "the last refuge of the left" and comparing undocumented immigrants to cancer.

The official, William Perry Pendley, currently serves as the acting director of the Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management. The Trump administration has yet to nominate a permanent director of the bureau.

Pendley was appointed to the role in July 2019, and immediately set off a firestorm of criticism for his past statements opposing the "tyranny" of federally owned public land and advocating for selling it off.

Pendley ran the conservative Mountain States Legal Foundation, which calls itself a "public interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government and free enterprise system." He announced last month that he has recused himself from projects involving any of the dozens of former clients he worked with at the organization.

Read more: These 10 young activists are trying to move the needle on climate change, gun control, and other global issues

In response to KFile's reporting on Tuesday, Pendley accused the network of "cherrypicking" out-of-context statements.

"As someone in the public arena for nearly four decades, I've given countless statements and written scores of articles on a wide variety of topics," Pendley told CNN. "I'm focused now on implementing the policy priorities of the Trump administration and Secretary Bernhardt within the authorities and mission given this agency by Congress. My personal views are irrelevant in this context."

But much of his public remarks and writings are available online, including a 1992 speech to the Washington-based conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, in which he accused the media of inventing the so-called "ozone hole" - a layer of protective ozone that scientists documented as rapidly thinning beginning in the 1980s.

"Despite the total absence of credible scientific evidence, the media is convinced and is attempting to convince us that we have global warming, an Ozone hole and acid rain and that it is all man's fault," he said.

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