Report: Senator Gardner Prepares Bill To Move BLM Headquarters West
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is preparing legislation that would move the headquarters of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from Washington, D.C. to a Western state.
Gardner mentioned the legislation while meeting with members of Club 20, a coalition of local governments, tribes, businesses and citizens from Colorado’s Western Slope, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
Gardner says Grand Junction is a “natural geographic choice” for the headquarters of BLM, which manages hundreds of millions of acres of federal lands and subsurface minerals in the West. The legislation will not pick an exact location, but instead lays out specifications including air and highway access and a location within BLM-managed lands, the Sentinel reported. Grand Junction would meet those specifications, however.
Western Wire was the first to report Gardner’s push to move BLM headquarters to a western state, and the support the Republican senator has received from Colorado’s Democratic Governor, John Hickenlooper. “We should go get ’em,” Hickenlooper said last month. “I think there’s too much concentration of decision making in Washington already,” he said. “Having some of that spread out in other parts of the country is not necessarily a bad idea.”
Gardner raised the idea of relocating BLM’s headquarters during the confirmation hearing of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a former congressman from Montana. The Colorado cited the backlash against Planning 2.0 – a last-minute overhaul of federal land-use policy by the Obama administration, which has since been repealed – as “a great example of how little Washington understands about the West and how bureaucrats get in the way of how things work in the West.”
“Perhaps we could cure some agencies like the BLM of Potomac Fever by moving them out of Washington,” Gardner said.
In response, Zinke – a former Navy SEAL – said he would work with Gardner to explore the idea further.
“The bottom line is that decisions oftentimes are better at the front line if you empower your people to do them,” Zinke said. “There’s a saying in the military: Centralized direction, decentralized execution. … I’m committed to look at our organization across the board.”
Today, the conservative Colorado Peak Politics website endorsed Gardner’s proposal and called on other lawmakers to rally behind it. Top federal bureaucrats “need to be educated about the West, and see firsthand how their regulations affect us real folks,” Peak Politics said, before urging “the entire Colorado delegation” to support it.