WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today launched a process to evaluate how to best integrate the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) into the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to further strengthen the bureaus' mining regulations and abandoned mine land reclamation programs. The initiative will be undertaken with the coordination and input of employees, Members of Congress, and interested parties.
“We must always be looking for ways to make government work better, to build on our strengths, and to get the most out of the limited resources we have,” said Secretary Salazar. “OSM and the BLM have vital natural resource missions, tremendous public servants, and strong leaders who are helping us rethink how we better deliver services and how we can further strengthen our regulation, reclamation, and stewardship responsibilities. We will rely on the ideas and input of employees and many others at every step of the process, so that we ensure that an integration is successful and consistent with our authorities under the law.”
The Secretarial Order issued today will become effective December 1, 2011, following consultation with the White House Office of Management and Budget, employees, and applicable Congressional committees with responsibilities over these functions. The Order directs Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes to work with OSM and BLM leadership and employees to develop a schedule, by March 1, 2012, to achieve strategic improvements in four primary areas:
“OSM has a strong record over the last two and a half years of providing strong and effective enforcement of surface coal mining and of ensuring timely reclamation of disturbed lands and waters,” said OSM Director Joe Pizarchik. “The Secretary has asked us to build on our strengths by looking at how we can best integrate certain functions with the BLM, so that we are making the most effective use of limited resources.”
“OSM and the BLM have many complementary responsibilities with respect to mining and the reclamation of mine lands, and it makes sense to explore how we can bring the best out of the two bureaus as they carry out their statutory responsibilities,” said BLM Director Bob Abbey. “Examining new organizational structures can be challenging, but we must be open to new ideas and new ways of thinking about how to make government work better.”
OSM oversees State surface coal mining regulatory programs and develops new tools to ensure the states and tribes administer their programs effectively. The Office's 525 employees are located at the Headquarters in Washington DC and throughout three regional offices -- Appalachian, Mid-Continent, and Western.
The BLM manages more land - over 245 million acres - than any other Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.
Click HERE for a Q & A document.