Congress debates Bureau of Land Management move to Grand Junction |

Congress debates Bureau of Land Management move to Grand Junction

The acting director of the Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday defended his agency’s decision to move its headquarters to Grand Junctionin the face of criticisms that it will cause career employees to depart, will needlessly cost federal coffers and will harm tribal interests.

“Nearly every Western state will realize significant benefits from this reorganization,” William Perry Pendley, a longtime Colorado resident and lawyer, told the House Natural Resources Committee.

In mid-July, it was announced that BLM will move its headquarters and 27 top staffers to Grand Junction. Supporters of the plan, led by Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Yuma, say it moves decision-making closer to the federal lands that BLM oversees. Critics say the real goal is to cut the size of BLM, effectively weakening the public lands agency.

“I don’t think it’s a question of distrust in the people of Grand Junction,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, during the hearing Tuesday. “It’s the distrust that’s centered on this (Trump) administration, their motivations, and what is really behind the move that we’re here trying to get at.”

Tuesday’s hearing was solely for oversight purposes; there is no current legislation to stop the BLM move to Grand Junction. Some Democrats have vowed to do so through the appropriations process, but it’s not yet clear whether they will have the votes or time to accomplish that.

Read more via The Denver Post.

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