Three Democratic congressmen are supporting a Republican-backed bill to move the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) headquarters to one of 12 western states, Western Wire reports.
The bill, introduced by GOP Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado, orders the Secretary of the Interior to relocate BLM headquarters to Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington or Wyoming.
Democratic Reps. Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis of Colorado and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona all publicly support Tipton’s bill, with Perlmutter and Sinema joining as co-sponsors.
“Relocating BLM headquarters to the West would be a natural fit with the agency’s mission and purview, and allow agency officials to be closer to the land and minerals they oversee,” Perlmutter told Western Wire in an email.
The vast majority of the BLM’s 245 million acres of federal land is located in the western U.S., along with most of the 700 million acres of federal minerals, according to congressional testimony by Western Energy Alliance President Kathleen Sgamma.
Economic activity on western lands under federal control drastically outpaces production in 31 eastern states by nearly 60 times: $88 billion to $1.5 billion, according to Sgamma.
“BLM decisions disproportionately affect westerners, whether they live in rural communities that derive large portions of their economic sustenance from public lands or in western cities,” Sgamma said. “These issues are better made jointly with a BLM that is locally integrated with communities, rather than in Washington, D.C.”
Former Interior Deputy Chief of Staff Matt Lee-Ashley opposes the push, and claims that moving the headquarters to a western state to increase accountability would actually do the opposite.
“Right now, BLM has a small footprint in Washington, D.C., and moving the headquarters is only going to waste taxpayer money on relocation expenses and extra travel,” Lee-Ashley told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s also going to make it harder for Congress and the inspector general to conduct their oversight of the agency — raising the risk for waste, fraud and abuse.”
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