Reversing Trump Move, Deb Haaland Brings Land Office Back to DC

By MATTHEW DALY Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) – Home Secretary Deb Haaland moves the national headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres in the western states, to the nation’s capital after two years in Colorado .

The land management agency lost nearly 300 employees to retire or resign after President Donald Trump’s administration moved its headquarters to Grand Junction, Colorado, in 2019.

The office has a broad influence on energy development and agriculture in the West, managing public lands for uses ranging from fossil fuel extraction, renewable energy development and grazing, to recreation and conservation. wild nature. Its workforce remained in turmoil after four years without a confirmed director.

The agency’s space in Grand Junction will become its western headquarters, Haaland said. The Grand Junction office will strengthen Western perspectives in decision-making and “have an important role to play in the office’s clean energy, outdoor recreation, conservation and scientific missions,” the ministry said. ‘Interior in a press release.

The changes, which will be made in coordination with Congress, will improve the functioning of the land management agency, help clarify the 7,000 BLM employees across the country, and allow the office to better serve the American public and fulfill his mission as a steward. nearly a fifth of the country’s public land, Haaland said.

“The Bureau of Land Management is essential to the nation’s efforts to address the climate crisis, expand public access to our public lands and preserve our nation’s common outdoor heritage,” she said in a communicated.

“There is no question that the BLM should have a leadership presence in Washington, DC – like all other land management agencies – to ensure it has access to the political, budgetary and decision-making levers to best conduct its mission, ”Haaland mentioned. BLM’s presence in Colorado and the West will continue to grow, she added.

“The past few years have been incredibly disruptive for the organization, for our public servants and for their families,” said Haaland, referring to the actions of his predecessors, Ryan Zinke and David Bernhardt, to move the BLM to rural Colorado, prompting criticism that the Trump administration intended to clear the agency that oversees large swathes of public land in the West. Hundreds of longtime employees have chosen not to move to Colorado. Only three workers eventually moved.

Haaland, who opposed the move as a congressman from New Mexico, visited Colorado headquarters in July.

Zinke, Trump’s first Home Secretary, kicked off Colorado’s move, calling it a reorganization that brings senior agency officials closer to the nearly quarter of a billion acres of public land it oversees . The move was completed under Bernhardt, who took over from Zinke in 2019.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis and members of the Colorado Congressional delegation urged the Biden administration to keep the BLM based in Grand Junction. US Democratic Senator John Hickenlooper, who invited Haaland to visit Grand Junction, said the headquarters move was “done in a hurry” and let the city down, which was hoping for an economic boost.

President Joe Biden’s candidate for office, former Democratic Assistant Tracy Stone-Manning, received no Republican backing in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee vote on her nomination in July. The GOP blasted Biden’s choice for alleged links to a 1989 environmental sabotage investigation.

Stone-Manning will face a full Senate vote in order to become the new director. Every Senate Republican and at least one Democratic lawmaker would have to block their confirmation in the equally divided chamber. Haaland, who is believed to be Stone-Manning’s boss, reiterated his full support for the candidate during his visit to Colorado.

Associated press

Gregory M. Roy