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New federal lands boss: Past support for US land sales is ‘irrelevant’

MILFORD, UT - MAY 31: Wild horses roam free on state and some private land, outside federal disengaged horse management areas on May 31, 2017 outside Milford, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A newly appointed Trump administration official who oversees nearly a quarter-billion public acres in the U.S. West says his past support for selling federal lands is “irrelevant.”

Acting Bureau of Land Management Director William Perry Pendley disavowed his longtime advocacy for federal land sales or transfers in an interview with Montana radio station KBUL-AM.

The Wyoming native has previously accused government agencies of illegally blocking ranchers, miners and oil and gas companies from profiting off publicly owned range and forest.

Pendley’s appointment last month raised alarm among conservationists, who said it signaled a willingness within the Trump administration to sell vast swaths of federal lands.

Pendley says he is now in an administration opposed to such sales, adding that he knows how to follow orders.