William Perry Pendley headshot
CNN  — 

The Trump administration will withdraw the controversial nomination of William Perry Pendley to serve as director of the Bureau of Land Management, an administration official familiar tells CNN.

Pendley, who currently serves as the agency’s acting director, has repeatedly denied the existence of climate change and once falsely claimed that there was no credible evidence of a hole in the ozone layer, according to a CNN KFile review of his social media activity, writings and public appearances.

Pendley, a conservative activist, commentator and lawyer, was appointed by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt as BLM’s acting director in July 2019.

Greenwire first reported the administration’s intent to withdraw Pendley’s nomination.

In other comments unearthed by CNN’s KFile, Pendley has previously cited an anti-Muslim figure to claim Islam was at war with the United States, compared undocumented immigrants to cancer and blamed them for diseases.

Sen. Tom Udall, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with oversight of the Department of the Interior, called for his removal as acting director after news of the withdrawal of Pendley’s nomination became public.

“Pendley never should have been nominated, and the fact that he was shows you what you need to know about this administration’s conservation priorities. He should not be allowed to continue in this role in an acting, unconfirmed capacity,” the New Mexico Democrat said in a statement. “It’s time for DOI (to) stand up for our public lands and our trust and treaty obligations to Tribes.”

The news was also hailed by environmental groups including the international nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Good riddance to a racist who has no business managing our public lands … And he should be removed from his acting role immediately,” said John Bowman, managing director of government affairs for NRDC, in a statement on Saturday.

Earthjustice, an environmental law organization, also applauded the news.

“This is a victory for those who care about the health of our planet and the dignity of its people,” said Blaine Miller-McFeeley, the group’s senior legislative representative, in a statement Saturday.

CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, Paul LeBlanc and Nathan McDermott contributed to this report.