Just one of the many Trump Administration actions that the Biden Administration is trying to undo, but rebuilding the BLM will be more complicated than rewriting a regulation. (Back then we were saying this.)
Two years after President Donald Trump decided to move the bureau’s headquarters to Grand Junction, a small city in the mountains of Colorado with no direct flight links with D.C., Biden plans to bring it back. But the agency remains severely depleted, according to interviews with more than 20 current and former Interior Department employees, hobbling the Biden administration’s work.
With the BLM, Interior Department leaders are now confronting a particularly daunting version of a task that is familiar in many corners of the federal bureaucracy: rebuilding institutions that Trump spent four years breaking down.
Trump “destroyed the effectiveness of the agency,” said a BLM employee, one of the 41 former headquarters staffers who relocated to Western posts. “Everything’s broken down.”
There are now situations in which an employee from Salt Lake City reports to a supervisor in Denver, who reports to a supervisor in Grand Junction, who reports to a supervisor in D.C., when previously all four of them were in the nation’s capital.
New people hired into headquarters positions often came from state agencies or were promoted from jobs in the field and are unfamiliar with the ways of Washington. Employees say budget discussions that once might have taken hours take days or weeks as new managers struggle to navigate unfamiliar terrain.
Haaland later said the “real cost” of the move was the loss of more than 200 “valued, experienced career employees who felt that they couldn’t uproot themselves the way the administration wanted them to.”
The impact on minority employees has been particularly stark.
The move decimated the ranks of the planning staff responsible for establishing multi-decade rules for how the country’s public lands can be used, including setting the balance between fossil fuel extraction and conservation. That division had more than 20 headquarters positions during Trump’s first year in office. Just four of those people remained after the move.
“It’s like they intensely wanted to create dysfunction in the agency. And they did. They succeeded in that.”
And so, Tracy Stone-Manning has been set up to fail, and we shouldn’t expect a whole lot for awhile from BLM’s plans for “a multiyear shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy on public lands.”