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Harry Reid to Burning Man's Rescue?

Reid says the BLM should rethink their request about Burning Man. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wants the Bureau of Land Management to suck it up when it comes to Burning Man.  

Responding to reports in the Reno Gazette-Journal that BLM officials are asking for an estimated $1 million VIP compound for their use during the annual counter-cultural festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, Reid wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, an avid outdoorswoman and former head of REI, saying the BLM needs to get over itself about asking for flushing toilets and other amenities. The BLM is in charge of permitting the annual event, which takes place this year from Aug. 30 to Sept. 7.  

"While I agree that the BLM should take its permitting duties seriously and work with Burning Man to both guarantee the safety of its participants and the protection of the environment, providing outlandishly unnecessary facilities for the BLM and its guests should be beyond the scope of the permitting requirements. Part of Burning Man’s philosophy is self-reliance and living with the elements is part of the experience. Flush toilets and laundry facilities can be found about ten miles away in Gerlach, Nevada, if BLM’s employees need such amenities," Reid wrote, noting that he was an author of the legislation that designated the area a federally protected space.  

According to the Reno paper, the request by the BLM is "unprecedented" in Burning Man's more-than-two-decade history, and would increase its 2015 permit fees to around $5 million. Burning Man organizers have refused so far to comply with the BLM's request for the so-called Blue Pit compound.  

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