WASHINGTON, DC – Below is the statement of Department of the Interior spokesman Adam Fetcher regarding Secretary Salazar's decision to extend the time for gathering input on the realignment of certain Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) functions:
“In the weeks since Secretary Salazar directed OSM and BLM leadership to evaluate how certain functions of BLM and OSM might be consolidated to further strengthen the bureaus' mining regulatory and abandoned mine land reclamation programs and achieve important efficiencies – without losing OSM's independence as a regulatory body -- some of the Department's most senior officials have testified before Congressional committees; consulted with staff of the applicable committees as well as the Office of Management and Budget; and held employee meetings in Denver, Pittsburgh, Alton, Ill., and Washington, D.C., to discuss the proposed consolidation.
“The discussions that have been conducted to date have been very productive. In particular, they have helped to identify efficiencies that OSM might gain by having BLM handle some of OSM's administrative functions, in much the same way as some bureaus in the Department provide administrative support functions for other, smaller bureaus and offices. At the same time, it appears that some of OSM's core functions might be strengthened by adding BLM's abandoned mine reclamation program and BLM's coal-related inspection responsibilities to OSM's similar programs. Informative discussions also are underway regarding how best to maintain OSM's independence over its regulatory responsibilities under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.
“Consistent with the Secretary's plan to not move forward with a potential consolidation without full coordination and input of employees, members of Congress, states, tribes, industry, representatives of communities affected by coal production and other interested parties - and recognizing that additional discussions and consultations will be helpful - Secretary Salazar today issued an amended order that will provide additional time for input from interested parties. In the amended order, the Secretary asks the Deputy Secretary, the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, the Director of OSM, and the Director of the BLM to produce a written report by February 15, 2012 that incorporates input received from these many sources, and which recommends next steps. A new effective date for the secretarial order will be set forth following the February 15, 2012 report to the Secretary.
“We remain committed to making government work better to further strengthen our regulatory, reclamation and stewardship responsibilities, and we are confident we can do this by building on the strengths of both OSM and BLM to get the most out of our limited resources. We look forward to continuing our discussions with employees, members of Congress and stakeholders throughout this process so that we ensure that any organizational changes are successful and consistent with our authorities under the law.”
To read today's order extending the time for input, click here.
To read Secretary Salazar's October 26, 2011 order, click here.