DENVER (AP) — The Latest on moving the Bureau of Land Management headquarters west (all times local):
Congressional Democrats are questioning a Trump administration official’s commitment to public lands and his attitude toward Native Americans.
William Perry Pendley, the acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, was asked Tuesday by the House Committee on Natural Resources about his past advocacy for selling public lands and comments he allegedly made about Native Americans.
Pendley denied he ever advocated for what he called the wholesale disposal of public land, despite writing in a 2016 article that the nation’s founders intended for the federal government to sell all its land.
Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico, a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, asked Pendley about allegations he had mocked Native Americans for wanting to protect land they consider sacred.
Pendley didn’t deny the allegation but said he had spoken as a private attorney representing private clients.
He said he was proud to work with Native Americans as head of the Bureau of Land Management.
Pendley spoke at a hearing on the administration’s plans to move the agency headquarters to Colorado.
The director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management may remain in Washington even though the Trump administration says it will move the agency’s headquarters to Colorado.
Acting bureau director William Perry Pendley told the House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday he would be among about 60 agency employees staying in the capital when 300 others move to 11 Western states, including 27 to a new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Asked if that would create a leadership vacuum in Washington, Pendley replied: “I’ll be here.”
He didn’t elaborate, and it wasn’t clear whether the next permanent director would move to Colorado.
Lawmakers didn’t question him further on where he would work, and administration officials didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Pendley said moving the headquarters West would leader to faster, better decisions. The bureau oversees nearly 388,000 square miles (1 million square kilometers) of public land, 99% of it in 12 Western states.
Congressional Democrats plan to grill Trump administration officials on their plan to move the largest U.S. land-management agency’s headquarters from Washington to Colorado.
The House Natural Resources Committee scheduled a hearing in Washington Tuesday on the plan to transfer the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Grand Junction, a city of about 63,000 people 250 miles (400 kilometers) west of Denver.
Most of the bureau’s 10,000 employees are already in field offices, and 99% of its land is in the West.
The administration wants to move the bureau director and 300 jobs to Colorado and 10 other Western states, saying it will lead to better decisions.
Committee chairman Raul M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, says it will make it easy for special interests to demand favors without congressional oversight.