Grijalva eager to subpoena Interior over BLM relocation plans

Grijalva eager to subpoena Interior over BLM relocation plans
© Greg Nash

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) on Tuesday said he’s considering using subpoena power to force the Interior Department to turn over documents outlining the agency’s plans to relocate the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Grijalva told reporters he was disappointed to not get more details from acting BLM Director William Pendley during a hearing earlier Tuesday to examine the relocation.

“It proved once again that this has been slapped together as we go along,” Grijalva said.

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“The hearing validated some things we had been considering and also justifies us going further in the consideration of a subpoena to get those reorganization papers. I think that’s the next step,” he added.

Interior announced in July it would move 300 D.C.-based employees west to various offices, leaving just 61 people in Washington. But other details have been closely guarded by Interior, with few details passed to BLM employees.

Grijalva said he wants to get a copy of the agency’s reorganization papers, but it’s not totally clear he has the committee staff backing. A committee spokesman told The Hill the subpoena isn’t happening at the moment but didn't clarify whether that could change in the future. 

The Arizona Democrat acknowledged that staff had reservations about a subpoena and would need more time to get ready. 

“We don’t want to chase something that we won’t be able to win at legally and in terms of content, but I think this one’s pretty obvious. The record is there,” Grijalva said, pointing to Pendley’s references to a cost-benefit analysis and how Interior weighed where to send employees. “It’s an option I think we have to use.”

“I’ve indicated to staff we’ve done the due diligence. It’s time to press the point,” he said. “I don’t want to research ourselves into a coma.”

Interior said Tuesday that it would more fully release its plans for employees and the agency on Sept. 17.