Bureau of Land Management Defends Move to Oil-And-Gas Town in Colorado

Environment: NPR


The idea had been floated for years but President. Trump is actually doing it is administration is moving the headquarters of the Bureau of land management the Federal Agency that oversees drilling mining and recreation on about a tenth of all land in the US. The agency's main foot main office is now in a traditional oil and gas town in Colorado. Npr's Kirk siegler reports the new headquarters a long way from Washington DC. Like nine thousand nine hundred miles to the small western Colorado City of Grand Junction here. It's impossible to ignore. You are surrounded by federal public. Land the towering Mesas Red Rock Canyons and the Colorado National Monument Lobby the Acting Director William Perry penalty caught flack after announcing the move because of the other tenants in this office building their Chevron upstairs and on the main floor right next to the BLM's new glass entryway Colorado's lead oil and gas lobbying firm. You can't help but notice when you walk in. This office is right next to the Colorado oil and gas the Kogo Office and I'm just thankful it's not a marijuana dispensary. There's no dearth of pot shops around here but the agency says it's also hard to find an office space where the industry doesn't have a presence. Grand Junction is surrounded by public lands. That produce a lot of oil and natural gas. You know frankly. Let's be real. The oil patch can always afford to fly to Washington and sit down with somebody in Washington. The people can't do it farmers and ranchers and people from small community and county commissioners in a crisp wight Western shirt and Black Bolo tie the six-foot-five pen-li says the General Services Administration found this space. I think the more important story is that were out here. Were in the local community and locals can come and see us and we're just a you know a short drive away from a lot of people who would never think of flying to Washington. Dc to sit down with the director for penalty. This move is about decentralizing the US government the seventy four year old attorney spent most of his career at the Conservative Mountain states legal foundation re challenged the BLM in cases representing miners ranchers and recently Utah counties who fought bears. Ears National Monument. Some Westerners have long complained that the agencies leaders in Washington are disconnected with rural resource dependent communities here in Grand Junction Mesa County. Commissioner Rose Puglisi pushed hard for the relocation we have great relationships with our local field offices but ultimately we've learned that the decisions are made in Washington DC where they don't really even know where Mesa County is or the impacts of their decisions on our economy. Puglisi is a Republican but there has been some bipartisan support in Colorado Anyway for the relocation in part because the government is moving higher paying leadership. Jobs out here but mostly. Democrats and many conservationists are fighting this. They lost a bid to strip funding for the move but they did convince the Government Accountability Office to launch an inquiry. A lot of people come here like walk. Dogs defined right in activist and environmental filmmaker. Cody Perry is in. Bangs Canyon is a popular recreation site just to the edge of the Grand Junction sprawl. Is this public lands. That belongs to not just the people here in this county but all Americans he points out that the vast majority of BLM staff is already living and working full time in the rural west any worries that removing leaders from the halls of power and DC will turn the agency into a backwater. But he thinks that's by design. I think it's an absolute effort to undermine and dismantle an agency where essentially removing institutionalized knowledge that is being basically dismantled by industry actors. That's crazy talk. There's no other way to say back at the. Blm's still mostly empty offices near the city's Small Airport Acting Director William Perry pen-li says if anything the BIELEMA staffing up to carry out the administration's public land's agenda. Why in the world would we fire? People are dismantling agency this critical to accomplish your goals like energy independence like increasing recreational access like decreasing the likelihood of wildfires all across the West but for the third straight year. President trump has proposed. Cutting the agency's budget penalty hopes to have up to forty staff here by the end of March around the time that is temporary appointment. Expires Kirk Siegler. Npr News Grand

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