WASHINGTON, D.C. - Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne today applauded President Bush’s intention to nominate Brent Wahlquist to serve as director of the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM). Wahlquist, a 24-year career veteran of the agency, served as acting director since December 2005.
“Brent Wahlquist has proven himself an exceptional acting OSM director, as well as director of all three of the agency’s regions, so we welcome the President’s decision to nominate him to Congress,” Kempthorne said.
Wahlquist has served as director of OSM’s Appalachian Region in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania since 2002, overseeing the agency's programs in a seven-state area. Previously he served as director of the agency's Mid-Continent Region headquartered in Alton, Illinois and its Western Region in Denver, Colorado and as OSM’s assistant director in Washington D.C. He has spearheaded the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative and other innovations. Before joining OSM, Wahlquist served as Deputy Director of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. He had also worked in the private sector.
During his Senate confirmation process, Wahlquist will continue to temporarily exercise the delegated authorities necessary to oversee OSM.
Established by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, OSM has the mission of “balancing the nation’s need for continued domestic coal production with protection of the environment.”
Wahlquist, who was born in Utah, raised in Idaho, and currently resides in Pennsylvania, holds a PhD in biology from New Mexico State University, and both a masters degree and a bachelors degree in botany from Brigham Young University.