Today, Western Values Project (WVP) — an Accountable.US project based in Montana, defending America’s public lands — announced a five-figure campaign calling for answers concerning the controversial Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) headquarters relocation to Grand Junction, Colorado. The campaign comes shortly after the House Natural Resources Committee (HNRC) voted to approve subpoena power for Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).
“People need to know what the Trump administration and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner are doing to undermine America’s most important land management bureau. Between the rampant culture of corruption and Interior Secretary Bernhardt turning Interior into his own personal lobbying shop, Congress and the public deserve answers and accountability. Now that subpoena power has been granted, it’s time to dig-in to find the true intentions of their reckless Bureau of Land Management relocation,” said Jayson O’Neill, Western Values Project Deputy Director.
O’Neill continued, “We already know why Secretary Bernhardt and Trump administration wanted to move the bureau: it will mean greater access for extractive corporations and cull career staff. But many questions remain unanswered, including how much the move will cost taxpayers, where the funding is coming from, as well as the long-term consequences of the move. We all deserve answers as to why Bernhardt is so keen on undermining the BLM and exploiting America’s public lands.”
WVP originally launched WeDrill — a website and video intended to highlight Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s controversial decision to co-locate the BLM new headquarters with several extractive corporations and special interests — in October 2019.
Sec. Bernhardt and Interior have stonewalled public information requests and Congressional accountability efforts for months. After Chairman Grijalva repeatedly asked Sec. Bernhardt for justification supporting moving the BLM out of Washington D.C. and away from the decision-making table, Interior failed, once again, to provide a clear answer. A wholly inadequate cost-benefit analysis about the move was offered a distant six months ago. Interior’s website has posted only three press releases concerning the BLM move since the official announcement in July 2019 and only offers broad, empty talking points on the BLM website.
Previously, Sec. Bernhardt has offered only sparse justification for the BLM move, including increased local control. However, that reasoning was widely debunked. With the BLM working in the same building as giant oil and gas corporations as well as the delegation of authority to highly-conflicted and highly-recused William Pendley to lead the bureau, moving it is nothing more than another attempt by the former oil and gas lobbyist to allow unfettered industry access to America’s public lands.