Letter: BLM move seems fishy
My suspicions of what’s behind the BLM move to Grand Junction were raised by recent articles in Bloomberg Environment, “Ex-BLM Chiefs Say Interior Is Moving to Transfer Land to States,” and from CPR News, “The New Acting Director Of The BLM Once Advocated For Selling Off Public Lands.”
The BLM was created to manage most of the lands acquired by the federal government for the beneficial use of all of citizens of the U.S. Even though most BLM land spans 12 western states, it is not just for their use (despite what state and local politicians would have you believe).
Given that policy making and interagency cooperation happens in Washington, D.C., having the BLM headquarters in Grand Junction simply doesn’t make sense. The supposed explanations for the move ring hollow when you consider that 90% of BLM staff is already in the West for the specific purpose of being close to the resources they manage.
The Republican strategy is to strangle the budgets of agencies that manage federal lands so they can’t manage effectively. They then claim these same agencies are not capable of managing those resources and that the lands should be turned over to the states.
As states do not have the budgets to manage the resources, they will most likely sell them off to resource extraction companies, resulting in a land rush and “No Trespassing” signs all over the West.
Resource extraction companies have an abysmal history of leaving behind Superfund sites and bankrupt local communities. Just witness what happened to Appalachia and what is happening to the coal industry in Wyoming today.
Sen. Cory Gardner is being disingenuous in supporting this move — one his petroleum extraction-backing Koch Brothers are more than happy to support. His claim about the economic value of 27 new jobs is nothing compared to the original 300 jobs he promised, and is a smoke screen for the more underhanded purpose of the eventual elimination of the BLM.
While we need resource extraction to keep the economy going, any compacts should be done in the full light of day, account for all social costs and enforce the eventual cleanup required. BLM is the only agency currently in a position to perform this function well, and assure public lands remain open.
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