EnviroNews: BLM cozies up to industry

By Amy Brunvand

On September 10 the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Trump administration mismanagement of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which oversees 22.8 million acres of public lands in Utah as well as 38.6 million acres of subsurface mineral rights.

After interior secretary Zinke resigned amid charges of corruption, Trump appointed fossil-fuel lobbyist David Bernhard to replace him.  Bernhard has, in turn, appointed an anti-government zealot named William Perry Pendley as acting head of BLM. Pendley, who was previously a lawyer for the anti-environmental Mountain States Legal Foundation, uses the Twitter handle @Sagebrush_Rebel.

Last summer without consulting Congress, Bernhard announced plans to move the central offices of the Bureau of Land Management to Grand Junction in his home state of Colorado.  The move seemed designed to get rid of career staff members, but it’s worse than that.  The Grand Junction BLM offices share a building with oil and gas company offices and lobbyists.

An editorial from the Union of Concerned Scientists calls this kind of corruption “regulatory capture” and warns that once it is allowed to happen, it is very hard to fix.

Edward W. Shepard of the Public Lands Foundation testified, “We believe this plan would require the BLM to serve the short-term wants of locally powerful stakeholders to the detriment of all other constituents and the long-term needs of the public lands. The breakup of the Washington Office structure would ensure the BLM promotes parochial, local interests, rather than the national interest.”

BLM Disorganization: Examining the Proposed Reorganization and Relocation of the Bureau of Land Management Headquarters to Grand Junction, Colorado:  bit.ly/2lGtBmv


This is an excerpt from our November EnviroNews column. View the full article here.

This article was originally published on November 6, 2019.