Western Governors have asked Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke why they were not consulted in advance about DOI's proposal to change the bureaus’ regional office boundaries and shared additional questions regarding the proposal.
"Western Governors appreciate your desire to improve the efficiency of DOI so that it can more effectively respond to the needs of our nation," said WGA Chair and South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Vice Chair and Hawaii Gov. David Ige in the letter sent Feb. 1. However, the Governors
expressed "regret that DOI did not seek input from western states on the impact of this proposal and did not seek to engage in meaningful consultation with Western Governors regarding these proposed changes."
Western Governors previously requested an opportunity to engage with DOI on the matter in a letter to Secretary Zinke in April of 2017. The outreach notes the Governors remain "eager and willing" to work with DOI on changes that would meet DOI’s efficiency goals, "which we can discuss further should you be willing to consult with us on the matter."
The letter reminds DOI that Governors have continually "endeavored to improve the state-federal relationship and operate as authentic partners with federal agencies," as noted in the WGA Resolution Building a Stronger State-Federal Relationship.
In addition to the letter, the Governors asked questions regarding the DOI proposal that included, in part:
- What are DOI’s future plans for state consultation on the proposed boundary changes?
- Six of the seven land-based DOI bureaus currently have state or regional offices with boundaries along state lines. Why has DOI deviated from the use of state boundaries in this proposal?
- The proposed changes split Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada into three regions, and California, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, Kansas, South Dakota and Wyoming into two regions. Did DOI evaluate the proposal’s impact on the ability of its bureaus to consult, coordinate and cooperate with states?