Friday, November 15, 2013

Obama nominates Kornze to lead BLM

President Barack Obama has nominated a senior Bureau of Land Management administrator to become the next director of the agency.

Neil G. Kornze, a native Nevadan, got the nod Nov. 7.

"Neil has helped implement forward-looking reforms at the BLM to promote energy development in areas of minimal conflict, drive landscape-level planning efforts, and dramatically expand the agency’s use of technology to speed up the process for energy permitting,” Interior secretary Sally Jewell said.

Kornze, 34, has been at BLM since 2011, when he joined the agency as a senior advisor to the director. He has been serving as acting director since March of this year.

BLM has not had a permanent director since March 2012, when Bob Abbey retired.

Before joining the agency Kornze worked for Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

He has a masters degree in international relations from the London School of Economics, in addition to a B.A. in politics from Whitman College.

Kornze's family has a long history of work in the mining industry in the Elko, Nev. region.

Notwithstanding the possibility that the nominee will be sympathetic to mining interests, which rely on BLM lands throughout the West, environmental organizations generally welcomed the nomination.

"As a westerner, he knows first-hand the importance of careful stewardship of our public lands," Alex Taurel, the deputy legislative director of the League of Conservation Voters, said. "He's the right choice for the job, and the Senate should act quickly on his nomination."

Trout Unlimited touted Kornze's consensus-building skills.

"During his time on Capitol Hill and in recent years at the BLM, Neil has demonstrated a pragmatic, solutions-oriented approach to public lands challenges,” TU president and chief executive officer Chris Wood said.

Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Interior