Recently Released Report

Investigative Report of OSM Environmental Review


We investigated allegations that the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) pressured contractors to lower an estimate they had made of potential job losses associated with a proposed rule to protect streams located near coal mines, and that OSM ended the contract because the contractors refused to do so. We also examined the accuracy of one of the contractors’ calculations, showing 7,000 jobs would be lost if the rule was implemented.

We found that OSM first told the contractors to use one set of criteria to estimate production and job losses associated with the proposed rule. After the contractors’ calculations showed high costs to industry and significant job losses, other OSM employees asked them to change a variable in the assessment. These employees said they knew this would lower the job-loss number but felt strongly that the change was correct. All of the contractors we interviewed, however, disagreed with the proposed change.

We also found that although OSM only began to seriously consider terminating the contract after the job-loss number was leaked, OSM had long been dissatisfied with the contractors’ work. Instead of terminating, OSM opted not to renew the contract.

Read the complete report here