CARSON CITY — President Barack Obama has nominated Neil Kornze to become director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Kornze was raised in Elko and is a former senior adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Since March he has been leading the BLM as the agency’s principal deputy director.

The agency oversees more than 245 million acres of public lands nationwide, including about 48 million acres in Nevada.

“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 in a press release.

Nevada Senator Dean Heller said having a Nevadan nominee is imperative because of the amount of public land in Nevada.

“Considering the BLM controls roughly 67 percent of Nevada’s land, a Nevadan like Neil has a unique perspective on the challenges that our state faces regarding public land use,” Heller said. “Any nominee to lead this agency must understand that good public land management and economic development are not mutually exclusive, an issue with which a Nevadan like Neil is familiar. At the same time, the BLM is in the process of making decisions about sage grouse conservation that could have an enormous impact on Nevada’s economy, As a member of the Committee reviewing this nomination, I look forward to discussing this issue with many others with my fellow Nevadans as we work through the confirmation process.”

Kornze joined the BLM in 2011 as a senior adviser to the director, working on a range of issues including renewable and conventional energy development and conservation policy. Kornze played a major role in the Obama administration’s public lands solar policy. If confirmed by the Senate, Kornze would be the head of the BLM, which manages more than 245 million acres of public land and 800 million sub-surface acres of mineral estate.

Kornze’s nomination appears to be a continuation of the Obama administration’s drive to push renewable energy projects.

Since 2010, the BLM approved 25 utility-scale solar energy projects and has 70 pending solar applications as well.

Reid also supported the nomination. Reid says having grown up in Elko, Kornze, who served as an aide to the Senator, has seen firsthand the critical role that publics lands play in the economies of Nevada and other Western states.

“I am pleased President Obama has nominated Neil Kornze to be Director of the Bureau of Land Management,” Reid said. “Neil fully understands how important public lands are for renewable energy development, outdoor recreation, economic development and conservation. Raised in Elko, Nevada, he has seen firsthand the cirtical role that public lands play in the economies of Nevada and other Western states. Neil was a trusted advisor of mine for many years and I am fully confident he will be a successful BLM director.”

Senators Reid and Heller also supported the Employment Non Discrimination Act, which would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable,” Heller said. “Nevadans have made a point to ensure that our state laws offer protections for individuals regardless of their lifestyle. This bill will help ensure those same protections to Americans across the country. It is a well-balanced and fair piece of legislation that I hope the House of Representatives will also take up and pass.”

Reid said now is the time for Congress to act on this bill.

“It is time for Congress to pass a federal law that ensures all our citizens, regardless of where they live, can go to work unafraid to be who they are,” Reid said.

Whether it passes in the House of Representatives remains to be seen, something Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford said he hopes changes very quickly.

“I applaud Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for effectively moving ENDA forward, Senator Dean Heller for standing on the right side of history and the other 62 Senators for voting to align workplace policies in our country with the underlying American Creed of equality,” Horsford said. “…Unfortunately Speaker (John) Boehner has signaled he will likely not bring this legislation up for a vote in the House. It is sad that some in Congress are so out of touch that they would obstruct the will of the majority of Americans who support these common sense protections in federal law.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

 

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