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Washington • Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush says he supports moving the headquarters of the Interior Department to Denver; Reno, Nev.; or Salt Lake City so it would be closer to the lands it manages.
Laying out a plan to fix the relationship between federal land managers and the Western states that hold huge swaths of public acreage, Bush said that one key solution is to move the government officials out of the nation's capital and near the people they most affect.
"Historically, presidents export a secretary of the Interior from the West to Washington, D.C.," Bush wrote in a post on his website. "It is time to import the department from Washington, D.C., to the West."
Bush, a former Florida governor, made his announcement in Reno, arguing that the federal government increasingly doesn't treat Western states, local governments and tribes as equal partners and the Obama administration has instituted restrictive regulations, constrained land use and more "sue and settle" policies.
"This relentless overregulation has undermined the trust between Western communities and the federal government," Bush said. "It must be restored."
Gov. Gary Herbert said Wednesday that he would welcome the move.
"Utah would be happy to host the Department of Interior headquarters," Herbert said in a statement. "It only makes sense to have the key land decision-makers live in the areas they manage and oversee."
The Interior Department building is a short walk from the White House.
All federal departments are located in or near the Washington region, but most Interior officials aren't in Washington.
The department's figures show that 93 percent of its nearly 72,000 employees are based outside of Washington. About 7 percent are based in the nation's capital region.
The Interior Department declined to comment on Bush's proposal.