After E&E News reported and Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) announced on twitter that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) National will be relocating its headquarters to Grand Junction, Colorado, Western Values Project Deputy Director Jayson O’Neill issued the following statement:
“With conflict-ridden ex-mega lobbyist David Bernhardt running the show at Interior, motives behind this move are dubious at best. Bernhardt and his team of political cronies have proven over and over again that their preset agenda focuses on sweetheart deals for industry and special interests at the expense of our nation’s public lands. This move will waste more tax dollars and allow more political meddling by Trump’s conflicted appointees into decisions impacting public lands and wildlife.”
Background on BLM reorganization and relocation:
Bernhardt failed to consult with Congress about the relocation. Interior already spent some $14 million on the reorganization and relocation proposal and has requested an additional $27 million that has not been allocated.
Most BLM staff are already located in state offices out West while only a small group of experts are based in D.C. The fact is that 94% of BLM employees are already based within the states they serve.
Bernhardt isn’t reorganizing and relocating BLM to get more input from the West; he’s pushing the BLM to the states to limit the input of key leaders, scientists and other career employees. Bernhardt has even said that only a fraction of the only 500 employees at headquarters may move to the West.
There are more than a dozen agencies that have partial jurisdiction over our public lands, such as the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, National Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and others. Failure to maintain BLM HQ staff in D.C. will result in the exclusion of these key leaders on important and real-time discussions and decisions.