WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today applauded the Senate’s confirmation of Brent Wahlquist to serve as director of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Walhquist was confirmed by the Senate by unanimous consent on Friday, August 3, 2007.
“I commend the Senate for their vote of confidence in this outstanding manager and congratulate Brent on his confirmation,” Kempthorne said. “Brent has provided outstanding leadership for the Office of Surface Mining, most recently as acting director and before that as director of the agency’s three regions. I welcome his energy and insight on our policy team.”
Wahlquist, a 24-year career veteran of the Office of Surface Mining (OSM), had served as acting director from December 2005 until June 2007. He also served as director of OSM’s Appalachian Region in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania overseeing the agency's programs in a seven-state area since 2002. 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.
Wahlquist has spearheaded the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative and other innovative OSM programs and projects. Before joining OSM, he served as deputy director of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. He had also worked in the private sector.
Wahlquist, who was born in Utah, raised in Idaho, and currently resides in Pennsylvania, holds a doctor of philosophy degree in biology from New Mexico State University, and both a masters degree and bachelors degree in botany from Brigham Young University.
Established by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, OSM’s mission is to balance the nation’s need for continued domestic coal production with protection of the environment. The OSM has about 570 employees and an annual budget of about $298 million.