The Colorado Republican Party called on U.S. Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet Wednesday to put a hold on the Biden administration’s nominee to head the Interior Department.

A hold is a parliamentary power senators have to prevent a nomination from reaching the full Senate for a final vote.

Debra Haaland, a Democrat congresswoman from New Mexico, was markedly noncommittal this week in her confirmation hearing when asked whether she would keep the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) headquarters in Grand Junction.

On keeping BLM in Grand Junction, Haaland seemed less certain.


“I’ll absolutely keep an open dialogue,” she said. “And if you’re inviting me to Colorado I gracefully accept.”

Should Hickenlooper and Bennet place a hold on Haaland’s nomination, it could compel Haaland to answer whether she would keep BLM headquarters in Colorado.

One of former U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s marquee accomplishments was encouraging the Trump administration to relocate BLM to the Western Slope.

Gardner first raised the idea in a confirmation hearing in 2016, and was the driving force behind the move that officially occurred last year.

The relocation helped the local Grand Junction economy to the tune of $11 million last year alone, and brought policymakers closer to the federal land they manage, which disproportionately lies west of the Mississippi River.

“Colorado and Grand Junction are worth fighting for,” said Colorado Republican Party spokesman Joe Jackson.

“As Colorado’s current voices in the U.S. Senate [Bennet and Hickenlooper] need to fight to ensure that the BLM stays closest to the millions of acres they manage.”

Haaland’s refusal to be forthright on keeping the bureau headquartered in Grand Junction appears to be consistent with her hostile views on energy development, as well as the Biden administration’s broader anti-energy agenda.

The vast majority of energy development on the Western Slope occurs on federal land overseen by the BLM.

The Biden administration has already issued a leasing moratorium on federal land, which threatens over 3,000 Colorado jobs in 2021 alone.

Energy development on federal land also contributes substantial sums of tax revenue for local governments, schools, and public safety on the Western Slope.

When pressed during her confirmation hearing, Haaland could not explain how the Biden administration would replace that tax revenue should energy development be eliminated.

Haaland’s confirmation hearing is still ongoing, but it’s hard to imagine Bennet or Hickenlooper will put up much of a fight to keep the BLM in state.

Bennet is facing a primary threat from anti-energy fracktivist Joe Salazar, while Hickenlooper nearly faced a censure vote from the state Democrat Party after he initially voted against sending COVID stimulus checks to illegal immigrants.

A few days afterwards, Hick humiliated himself by apologizing to local left-wing activists.

In short, Hick and Bennet care far more about the whims of the Bernie Democrat base in Colorado politically than the welfare of working people connected to the energy industry.

However, Bennet in particular should be mindful that if Haaland gets confirmed and she moves BLM headquarters out of Grand Junction, that failure will fall squarely on his shoulders in 2022.