Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke launched an unprecedented effort Wednesday to undertake the largest reorganization in the department’s 168-year history, moving to shift tens of thousands of workers to new locations and change the way the federal government manages more than 500 million acres of land and water across the country.
The proposal would divide the United States into 13 regions and centralize authority for different parts of Interior within those boundaries. The regions would be defined by watersheds and geographic basins, rather than individual states and the current boundaries that now guide Interior’s operations. This new structure would be accompanied by a dramatic shift in location of the headquarters of major bureaus within Interior, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation.
….“I’m skeptical about the reorganization and its ability to serve the public more effectively,” Jewell said in an interview Wednesday. “Interior has a broad and diverse mission.”
….Environmentalists, who have fought with Zinke on a number of fronts since he first took office, expressed skepticism at the idea of such a radical change in the department’s structure.
“A regional approach to managing Interior might indeed make sense, but the jury is out on this reorganization,” Sharon Buccino, senior director for lands at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an email. “Virtually everything Secretary Zinke has done to date has been to advance fossil fuel interests — above the stewardship of our public lands, preservation of wildlife and protection of clean air and water.”…