Zinke moving forward with plan to reorganize Interior Dept boundaries: report

Zinke moving forward with plan to reorganize Interior Dept boundaries: report
© Greg Nash

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeNew policy at Interior's in-house watchdog clamps down on interactions with press Overnight Energy: EPA proposes scrapping limits on coal plant waste | Appointee overseeing federal lands once advocated selling them | EPA lifts Obama-era block on controversial mine Latest appointee overseeing federal public lands once advocated to sell them MORE is moving forward with a plan to dramatically reorganize the Interior Department, despite concerns from some lawmakers and governors in western states, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The plan would move hundreds of federal employees across the country, and would create a new organizational map based on natural features, instead of state lines. 

The Trump administration's budget proposal released on Monday requests funding to get the reorganization underway, according to the AP, and the department has already put together a tentative map reflecting the proposed changes.

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Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department, told the AP that the agency has spoken with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle about the proposed overhaul, but does not have a final plan in place.

She said that reorganizing the department's structure along geographical features would allow it to better manage natural resources, because nature does not abide by established state lines.

Swift also said that the plan has wide support among both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, as well as state governments. 

Still, the proposal has received some pushback. The Western Governors Association has voiced concern that the plan could reduce their states' influence on the Interior Department, and 19 governors in western states have said that Zinke did not include them in the process of planning for the reorganization.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, told the AP that he is concerned that the plan encourages Interior Department employees to quit to avoid relocating.

"I think it’s a very thinly disguised attempt to gut the Department of Interior and its bureaus," he told the AP.