Three Republican Colorado representatives are calling on the state's two senators to reject President Biden's nominee to lead to Bureau of Land Management if she does not commit to keeping its headquarters in Colorado.
Republican Colorado Reps. Lauren Boebert, Doug Lamborn and Ken Buck on Tuesday asked Democratic Colorado Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet to refuse Tracy Stone-Manning's nomination until the Biden administration commits to keeping the Bureau's headquarters in Grand Junction.
"If the Junior Senator from Michigan can hold up eight Department of Defense nominations to secure a victory for his state, then one of Colorado’s two U.S. Senators can hold up the BLM Director nomination to secure a victory for Colorado," Boebert said in a statement, referencing Democratic Michigan Sens. Gary Peters' and Debbie Stabenow's decisions to place procedural holds on certain Pentagon nominees, which they have since lifted.
Hickenlooper and Bennet "have the power to put Colorado first and leverage the Biden administration into keeping the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters and existing personnel spots in Grand Junction," Boebert continued, adding that she has "appreciated their efforts and working with them on this bicameral and bipartisan effort."
The BLM's headquarters was established in Grand Junction in 2020 under President Trump after a competitive selection process. The former administration argued at the time that the headquarters should be moved to Colorado because 99% of the 245 million acres of land the bureau oversees is west of the Mississippi River.
The Department of Agriculture also announced in 2019 that it would be moving researchers to Kansas and Missouri.
"Before confirming any director, we must have assurances from the Biden Administration that they will keep the Bureau of Land Management in Grand Junction, where they can better serve the communities they support," Lamborn said. "Land management decisions are best made by the people who have an innate understanding of the issues that affect these communities."
Critics accused the Trump administration at the time of facilitating a "brain drain." More than 87% of BLM personnel impacted by the move quit as a result of the decision, according to an analysis of Interior Department data by the Washington Post.
Supporters of the headquarter move such as Boebert, Lamborn and Buck argue that the new location has allowed for more diverse representation in federal land-management decisions. Those ranchers and county commissioners who normally would not normally meet with BLM leadership from a D.C. location now have the opportunity to work from Grand Junction, the Republicans say.
"There is bipartisan agreement in Colorado’s congressional delegation that the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters should stay in Grand Junction," Buck said. "Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper have been strong advocates for this, and I hope they place a hold on Stone-Manning’s nomination in order to keep the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters there"
Supporters also argue that the move has benefited U.S. taxpayers since the agency's leasing, staffing and travel costs are less in Colorado than D.C. BLM estimates that it will save more than $2 million in 2021, according to Boebert's office.