COUNTDOWN TO BLM MOVE BEGINS: The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) controversial move out west could begin within as little as five months, according to an email sent by the agency’s acting director William Pendley.
In an email to staff obtained by The Hill, Pendley said the agency would give relocation orders in the coming weeks, kicking off a process that would give employees 30 days to decide whether to move, and another 90 days to relocate to their new post.
“Our desire is to retain the knowledge, skills, and abilities of our experienced staff, but we recognize that your personal desires or situations may not be compatible with our decisions,” Pendley wrote. “We hope this interval will give you time to consider your options and your next steps.”
How we got here: The Department of Interior announced in July that it would uproot nearly 300 Washington-based BLM staffers, scattering them to existing offices across the West while leaving 61 employees in D.C. to manage the nation’s public lands.
The decision has been highly criticized by former BLM employees and conservationists who see it as a dismantling of the agency that could help further energy development on public lands.
Full steam ahead? Pendley’s email shows the move is proceeding despite pushback from lawmakers. Democrats have been particularly vocal in opposing the move, but both the House and Senate Interior appropriations bills for next year lack funding for the relocation.
Pendley’s timeline also lands as the downsides of agency relocations are coming into sharper focus.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture similarly announced it would move its two research agencies to Kansas City, but internal memos obtained by The Hill showed one of those agencies, the Economic Research Service, was delaying or canceling many of its projects and reports after losing nearly 80 percent of its staff.
Pendley said BLM would consider delayed move dates for employees with extenuating circumstances and also laid out options for those who do not wish to move, including retirement or help moving elsewhere within Interior.
“If you wish to continue working in the Washington, D.C., area, we will help you identify positions in the BLM or the Department,” he said.
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THAT’S SO HOT: September tied for the second hottest of that month on record, according to data released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).
The average temperature for September was 68.5 degrees Fahrenheit across the continental U.S., tying with 2015 as the second warmest September in history.
The first nine months of 2019 were also the wettest stretch in that period in U.S. history.
The period from January through September was the wettest first nine-month period on record in the contiguous U.S., with 27.96 inches of precipitation.
The period between October 2018 and September was also the wettest 12-month period in the record books, with the average precipitation coming in at 6.51 inches above average.
The state of North Dakota had its wettest September on record.
The warming trends have largely been highlighted by previous NOAA data. The government agency anticipates 2019 will be one of the top five hottest years on record. This past July was recorded as the hottest month on Earth.
D-LISTED: The Trump administration announced Tuesday that a songbird once threatened to the point of near-extinction has rebounded to the point where federal protections are no longer necessary.
The Kirtland’s warbler, officially added to the Endangered Species List in 1967, will be removed from the list of protected species on Nov. 8. Interior Department officials made the announcement at a news conference in Michigan alongside local environmental officials, the Associated Press reported.
“We’ve transitioned from bringing this species out of the emergency room to providing it with long-term stability,” Dan Kennedy, endangered species coordinator for Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources told the AP. “The job now is to ensure that this species continues to have a healthy population.”
At the species’ most-threatened point, just 167 pairs of Kirtland’s warbler were counted in the wild. That number has since surged to as many as 2,300 estimated pairs, according to officials.
Habitat destruction remains a top issue for the birds, which roost in rural northern Michigan during the spring and summer before heading for the Bahamas when the weather changes.
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
Oil lower as tensions grow ahead of U.S.-China trade talks, Marketwatch reports
Qatar seeks Exxon, Shell, other ‘big players’ for gas expansion, Bloomberg reports
PG&E considers power outages in Northern California as fire danger rises, the Los Angeles Times reports
ICYMI: Stories from Tuesday
–Emails show BLM relocation could begin within five months
-September ties record as second hottest ever for that month
-Trump administration removing songbird from endangered list
-Poll: Warren closing in on Biden’s lead with climate-focused voters
-300 arrested in London climate protests