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Scott TiptonScott TiptonFebruary 20, 20185min521

Over the past few years, one question I have often heard in the 3rd District is: why are the federal departments that have jurisdiction over most Western lands headquartered in Washington, D.C. rather than in Western states? Particularly, why is the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) headquartered in Washington, when 99 percent of the over 247.3 million acres of public land that the BLM manages is located in the West?


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Mark JaffeMark JaffeFebruary 18, 20187min518
The citizen councils in Colorado created to advise the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on local issues have been blocked from meeting for a year by Trump administration reviews and delays, setting off protests and resignations. The regional advisory councils, or RACs, were created by statute in 1995. There are three in Colorado—one each […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 15, 20187min385
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is pressing ahead with a massive overhaul of his department, despite growing opposition to his proposal to move hundreds of public employees out of Washington and possibly to Colorado or elsewhere in the West. Zinke wants to divide most of the department’s 70,000 employees and their responsibilities into 13 regions based […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 13, 20182min930

The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction offers an update this week on the West Slope’s high hopes for landing a relocated U.S. Bureau of Land Management headquarters. The upshot? Keep the faith.

Reports the Sentinel’s Gary Harmon:

“More under this administration than any other administration, it’s highly likely,” Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis, a (former) six-term congressman, said of relocating the BLM headquarters.

“I think we’ve got a great chance” to land the agency, McInnis said, acknowledging that there will be in-state competition for the headquarters. …

… Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been open to the idea of moving the headquarters, according to federal legislators who have discussed it with him.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, both Colorado Republicans, have introduced companion measures calling for the BLM to be moved to a Western state.

But Harmon also notes:

…Zinke is considering reorganizing the way Interior manages its lands and resources, possibly by establishing offices along major river drainages.

The Colorado and Gunnison rivers meet in Grand Junction before flowing into Utah, making the city a potentially ideal location for such an initiative.

The BLM, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation, all with significant presences already in Grand Junction, are Interior Department agencies that could be affected by a reorganization. The U.S. Forest Service, an Agriculture Department agency, also might be affected.

Either way, maybe, Grand Junction could get more federal FTEs and office space, whether it’s a new Western HQ for BLM or some other reorganization at Interior. As ever, we’ll stay tuned.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 6, 20185min628

Anglers and environmentalists say President Trump’s plan to reshape the federal lease approval process for oil and gas is a means to muzzle their concerns.

The plan will “hand over public lands to the oil and gas industries,” according to the Wilderness Society.

The Interior Department released a memo Thursday instructing its field offices “to simplify and streamline the leasing process” for oil and gas leases with the Bureau of Land Management.

BLM will have 60 days to process a proposed lease, and the BLM offices “may” allow public participation, but it’s no longer mandatory. The window for public opposition to finalized leases is 10 days, and unresolved opposition can’t hold up a sale, according to the memo.

Trout Unlimited released a statement with a Denver dateline that accused the president and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke of “rolling back efforts to protect sensitive fish and wildlife habitat and involve local communities, sportsmen’s groups and other in federal lands planning.”

Scott Braden, the wilderness and public lands advocate for Conservation Colorado, fired off a “rapid response” email to the 36,000-plus supporters of the state’s largest environmental organization:

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will stop at nothing to bring oil and gas drilling to every corner of our public lands. This week, he has proposed to erase commonsense policies that protect our public lands from drilling, including in special places like wildlands and lands adjacent to our national parks. His proposal also cuts opportunities for public comment effectively silencing the voices of hundreds of thousands of stakeholders and individuals who value our public lands.

The fallout from this attack on our lands could be catastrophic. Zinke’s preferential treatment to his pals in the oil and gas industry will fast track the approval of permits to drill on millions of acres of public lands across the West.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican running for governor, last year sided with the BLM over environmentalists in lease issues.

“This is a step backward in efforts to balance energy develop with sporting opportunity,” Steve Kandell, director of Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project, said in a statement.

“The scrapping of master leasing plans dramatically reduces the opportunities for public involvement and shuts out the voices of local stakeholders, including sportsmen and women, in the management of their favorite places to fish and hunt.”

The move was not a complete surprise. Trump promised to roll back suck regulations, and in his State of the Union Tuesday night he reiterated what Zinke said on stage at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver last summer: The war on American energy is over.

BLM is key to the administration’s America First Energy Plan.

“Oil and gas lease sales on public land directly support domestic energy production and the President’s energy dominance and job growth priorities for America,” Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a statement about increased domestic production last week. “2017 was a big year for oil and gas leasing on federal lands, and these sales provide critical revenue and job growth in rural America. We will continue to work into the next year to identify and modify unnecessary regulations that impede responsible energy development.”

Added Brian Steed, BLM’s deputy director for policy and programs: “These results are hard proof that our sound energy policy is working for both public lands and Americans in terms of reliable power and job growth opportunities. Going into the new year, we remain committed to an era of American energy dominance through our multiple-use mission that ensures opportunities for commercial, recreational, and conservation activities on healthy and productive public lands.”