Top Colorado Democrats Welcome Proposal To Move BLM Headquarters West
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) expressed support today for moving U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) headquarters from the nation’s capital to the West.
The two leading Colorado Democrats were responding to a proposal from U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who has been calling for the federal agency’s relocation since January.
“We should go get ’em,” Hickenlooper said today at a panel discussion in Denver organized by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Colorado Petroleum Council (CPC). “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.” Earlier in the panel discussion, Hancock was asked the same question and answered: “We’ll take ’em.”
Gardner, a Republican senator elected in 2014, raised the idea of moving BLM headquarters to a western state during the January confirmation hearing of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “Perhaps we could cure some agencies like the BLM of Potomac Fever by moving them out of Washington,” Gardner said, citing the backlash against an Obama administration land-use regulation called “Planning 2.0.”
“BLM Planning 2.0 is 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,” Gardner said during the Jan. 17 hearing. He reiterated his call to move BLM to a western state this week when the U.S. Senate voted to repeal Planning 2.0. “I hope we can move the country away from this Washington-knows-best mentality,” he said.
Through the BLM, the federal government manages more than 245 million acres of surface land more than 700 million acres of subsurface minerals across 12 western states. The Planning 2.0 rule attracted strong opposition from a broad coalition of stakeholders, including state and local officials, farmers, ranchers and energy producers. Critics of the regulation, approved less than two months before President Barack Obama left office, said it would weaken the authority of BLM field offices and further concentrate decision-making powers in Washington, D.C.
During today’s panel, moderated by Denver CBS4 political specialist Shaun Boyd, Hickenlooper said moving an agency like the BLM out of Washington would help restore public confidence in the federal government. The communities and industries of the West would have “more trust” in federal decisions “if they all knew who was doing the regulating and what the process was,” Hickenlooper said.
Today’s panel in Denver also included American Petroleum Institute president and CEO Jack Gerard, who cited the BLM’s methane rule for oil and gas development on federal lands as another example of federal overreach in the West.
The methane rule, also approved in the final months of the Obama administration, was imposed on top of existing state and federal regulations designed to limit the same emissions, Gerard said. Under the Obama administration, the BLM was “adding cost and regulation just for the sake of regulation,” he said.
The API and CPC have endorsed the repeal of the BLM’s so called venting and flaring rule, along with many other stakeholders in the West. In Colorado, critics of the BLM methane rule include the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, Colorado Business Roundtable and Club 20, a coalition of local governments, tribes, businesses and citizens from the Western Slope.
The fastest way to repeal the rule is a disapproval motion under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). A CRA disapproval motion, which would nullify the BLM methane regulation, passed the U.S. House last month and is now before the Senate. The same kind of CRA motion was used this week against the Planning 2.0 regulation in the Senate.