After Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would relocate its headquarters to Grand Junction, Colorado, last month, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney revealed the Trump administration’s true motive behind the decision: to force government employees to quit. Mulvaney’s comments directly contradict claims made by Senator Gardner and Interior’s top brass.
“The more we learn about the decision to relocate the BLM headquarters and employees, the more it becomes clear that the Trump administration is attempting to gut the department – despite the rhetoric we heard from Secretary Bernhardt paired with the cheap political points Senator Gardner tried to score. Forcing career civil servants out of employment will only hurt the BLM’s ability to effectively manage our public lands, impacting everything from outdoor recreation to grazing,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project.
Two former BLM directors said the move is the first step by the Trump administration to eviscerate the agency and transfer public lands to states.
The move has been widely criticized for lacking a purpose – only 27 employees will move to Grand Junction with another 222 to be deployed to already existing BLM offices in various Western states. Reorganizing the BLM is seen by members of Congress as part of a larger effort to appease special interests by skirting government accountability efforts.
Mulvany’s comments come after Secretary Bernhardt installed William Pendley – an extremist lawyer and longtime anti-public lands advocate – as the Acting Director of the BLM. Pendley supports transferring federal public lands to states – an action that would result in the sell-off and privatization of public lands. Ironically, Pendley is slated to stay in Washington D.C., while career public servants at BLM will be uprooted and dispatched across the West.