Today, Western Values Project, a conservation watchdog group based in Montana, released a report analyzing the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) move, pushed by the Trump administration and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
“From the very start, efforts to relocate the BLM’s headquarters have been strongly criticized, and the shaded reasoning put forth by Secretary Bernhardt doesn’t hold water. This report makes it clear: uprooting the BLM’s headquarters out of D.C., away from the decision-making table and moving in next door to oil and gas giants will only lead to more special interest perks at the expense of our public lands,” said Jayson O’Neill, Deputy Director of Western Values Project. “The Trump administration’s objective with this wasteful move is to dismantle a critical agency and let corporate interests pillage America’s public lands for private profits.”
Moving BLM’s decision-makers out of Washington D.C. has long been a goal of the Trump administration, originally pushed by former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke — who proposed moving the agency on his first day within the Trump administration. Scandal-plagued Zinke resigned in disgrace, leaving then-Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt with the blueprints for the BLM’s move and the reorganize of Interior.
After continually promising to release a plan for the move, Secretary Bernhardt partnered with Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and, in mid-July, officially announced that the BLM would relocate its headquarters to Grand Junction, CO. The announcement was not accompanied by anything beyond a vague official plan or even an outlined purpose or business case for the costly and disruptive decision.
Despite the lack of a plan, abundant consequences or a clear purpose, Bernhardt has plowed forward with the BLM move. The report details those deliberate reverberations and can be read here.