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BLM Move Draws Mixed Response

In the coming weeks and months, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will officially move its headquarters from the nation’s Capitol, Washington, DC, to Grand Junction, Colorado. The ambitious move has drawn praise and criticism in equal measure.

‘A Victory for Communities in the West’

Longtime fan of the move Colorado Senator Cory Gardner was effusive in his praise of the decision. “The problem with Washington is too many policymakers are far removed from the people they are there to serve,” he said in a statement. “Ninety-nine percent of the land the BLM manages is west of the Mississippi River, and so should be the BLM headquarters.”

As with every other move executed by the Trump administration, the BLM’s announcement has drawn criticism, as well. Democratic officials claim the decision was a thinly-veiled ploy to move the majority of policymakers in the BLM away from the Capitol (where they are) and closer to oil and gas company operations.

Of course, there’s no secret about it. The BLM is undoubtedly moving to get closer to the oil and gas fields that it needs to govern. That’s not political bias; it’s just logical. Fortunately, the dual magic of email and video conferencing should effectively remove any concern over politicians being able to reach BLM employees.

More Than a Hundred Longterm Jobs in the West

When it comes time to move, 27 BLM employees will make the transition to the new headquarters in Grand Junction. Another fifty-eight employees will transition into an existing BLM office in nearby Lakewood, Colorado. The rest will be spread throughout the Western states to have a closer eye on the lands they manage.

“We are thrilled to death,” said Robin Brown, director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. “It’s a huge boost to our economy; they’re great jobs. And, again, the name recognition that will come from being BLM’s Western headquarters is huge for us.”

Not Moving, Just Cleaning Up

Though the formal announcement of a shift in headquarters sounds monumental, it’s just the official announcement of a transition begun long ago. Of the nearly 10,000 BLM employees spread across the country, only about 400 were stationed in Washington, DC as of the announcement. After the move, the BLM will only have about 60 employees left in the nation’s Capitol.

As Sen. Gardner explained, more than ninety-nine percent of the BLM’s purview is west of the Mississippi River. At that percentage, 60 employees in one city on the east coast still sounds like a lot.

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Colorado Supreme Court Decision Ends the So-Called ‘Children’s Crusade’

Just like to tragic historical happening for which it was named, the modern day “Children’s Crusade,” as it was dubbed, has concluded in defeat. Frankly, it’s about time.

Martinez v. COGCC

For those unacquainted with the long-running battle, the COGCC has been under attack since 2013, when Xiuhtezcatl Martinez filed a petition with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (or COGCC) that demanded the regulatory agency suspend all new projects until they could prove conclusively that oil and gas development was not harmful to the environment. For nearly six years, the national oil and gas industry has been threatened by anti-fracking activists whose primary selling point is that they’re too young to go into a bar.

Sure, on the surface, that sounds like a noble quest. The fact that Martinez was a kid also made for stylish headlines, as well. Regardless of the long-running debate surrounding it, Martinez’s petition never amounted to more than a poorly-executed ploy designed to shame one of the hardest working regulatory bodies in the country.

Building an Industry While Handcuffed

In the ruling, Justice Richard L. Gabriel pointed out that the primary role of the COGCC is to “foster the development” of Colorado oil and gas. Ceding economic growth to niche environmental concerns comes a clearly defined second. Even then, the COGCC mandate states that addressing environmental concerns should come, “only after taking into consideration cost-effectiveness and technical feasibility.”

Meanwhile, the COGCC finds themselves operating under regulations that are both wildly restrictive and self-imposed. 

In a statement from President & CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association Dan Haley, the exec wrote, “The plaintiffs in the Martinez v. COGCC case ignored, and attempted to disrupt, decades of regulatory precedent and legal oversight. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act (Act) directs the COGCC to consider multiple factors in making its decisions, including environmental priorities. Following the Act, which is existing Colorado law, the COGCC has enacted the most extensive and stringent regulations for the oil and natural gas industry in the country.” 

Still, however, Colorado oil and gas finds a way to thrive.

The Battle the Continues

The Supreme Court ruling handed down early this week is an undeniable victory for the state’s energy companies. That said, there’s little time for Colorado oil and gas to revel. Opponents of hydraulic fracturing, including the newly elected governor of Colorado, have voiced their disapproval at the decision. In short, it’s only a matter of time before the state’s, and the nation’s energy interests are threatened once more.