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How about a BLM move under tree?
Coloradans have a lot of sugar plums dancing in their heads this holiday season.
Santa Claus metaphors are particularly apt when it comes to three blockbuster deals that could greatly alter the economic landscape of the state — and the Western Slope — for decades to come.
Why? Because there's nothing Coloradans can really do to make them happen. They're things to be decided by a corporation, a federal agency and Congress. It's just a waiting game — much like a child going to bed on Christmas Eve wondering if there will be a bike under the tree the next day.
But there's a key difference. If Santa doesn't deliver on a bike, you can always save your allowance and buy one. But we can't buy another chance to relocate the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to the Western Slope. It's a one-shot deal to be decided by Santa elves — member of Congress.
Two Front Range Democrats have signed on as cosponsors of Rep. Scott Tipton's bill to move the BLM's offices and 600 employees to a Western state — and hopefully Grand Junction.
Why it's taken so long for Jared Polis, D-Boulder, to officially get behind the idea is a head-scratcher. The legislation doesn't specify a location, so Denver could very well be the BLM's landing spot. So could any of the 12 states.
Tipton and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., offered identical bills in May calling for the move. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada, signed on as cosponsor on June 22.
The BLM is part of the U.S. Department of Interior and manages more than 247 million acres of public land — mostly in the West. It also oversees energy development on these tracts. Tipton and Gardner have posited that moving the headquarters gives those living near public lands a better opportunity for their voices to be heard. It puts agency officials closer to the land and minerals they manage.
Besides the potential BLM move, Colorado is awaiting word on two other developments — the possibility of Amazon choosing Denver for its second North American headquarters and the hope that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will greenlight a multibillion project that would ship natural gas from the Piceance Basin to Pacific Rim facilities in Asia.
Any one of these projects that came to fruition would cause growing pains and impact on traffic and infrastructure. The Amazon sweepstakes could result in more than 100,000 new jobs between Amazon employees and ancillary workers, raising concerns of rent and housing cost increases in Denver.
Grand Junction would face its own challenges making room for BLM personnel and greater drilling activity in the region. But it would be a good problem to have. We're just waiting to see who shows up ... Santa or the Grinch.