This Is How the Trump Administration Quietly Incapacitates the Government

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This is how the Trump administration goes about the quiet business of incapacitating the U.S. government.

President Trump spent his summer making war on Denmark, attacking Baltimore, destabilizing the world economy, sending an imaginary hurricane to Alabama and ousting his national security adviser, among other things. But while everybody was watching those fireworks, Trump’s underlings — some far more competent than he — were toiling in the shadows to hand over public lands to the tender mercies of oil and gas companies.

The scheme, rolled out over the summer, was ostensibly to put the Bureau of Land Management closer to the lands it manages by moving personnel out of Washington. That makes sense until you consider:

1. Ninety-seven percent of the BLM’s employees already are outside of Washington, and the few hundred in the capital do things such as coordinate with Congress and other agencies; now half the congressional affairs staff, I’m told, will work out of Reno, Nev. — 2,600 miles from Capitol Hill.

2. BLM organized this with cursory analysis of impacts and costs and no significant consultation with Congress, American Indian tribes or BLM staff.

3. BLM decided to locate its new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo., hours from a major airport but just down the road from the hometown of Interior Secretary (and former oil and gas lobbyist) David Bernhardt, who presides over BLM.

4. The relocation was overseen by Interior assistant secretary Joseph Balash , up until days before he took employment for himself with an oil-exploration company.

5. When Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said it appeared that the proposal, which doesn’t have congressional approval, was a “deliberate effort to dismantle” BLM, Balash threatened Udall, saying he would “reconsider the relocation of additional Departmental resources to your State” in retaliation.

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