U.S. Bureau of Land Management sued over plans for southwest Colorado

Environmental groups on Tuesday asked a judge to overturn a land-use plan for southwestern Colorado approved under the tenure of a Trump administration official who was later removed from a leadership post by court order.

Representatives of the Sierra Club and other groups said in a lawsuit that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management plan violates federal law because it was finalized under Deputy Director William Perry Pendley. Pendley acted as the bureau’s director for more than a year before his removal last month by a federal judge in Montana.

The agency’s plan for the Uncompahgre region of Colorado would open new lands to oil and gas development.

Opponents contend the administration approved it without adequate consideration given to climate change, an imperiled species of grouse and other environmental issues.

Pendley is a former property rights and oil and gas industry attorney from Wyoming. He was removed from the land bureau’s top position after Montana Gov. Steve Bullock sued the administration because Pendley had never been confirmed by the Senate.

Administration officials did not immediately respond to the lawsuit, but have previously defended the decisions made under Pendley’s watch. The judge who removed him has since struck down three land-use plans in Montana citing his illegal leadership.

The land bureau oversees almost a quarter-billion acres of land, primarily in the U.S. West.

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