Marita Noon,EPA Abuse
On October 26,2011,Secretary Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3315 that will consolidate the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The Order states that “fee collections” and “regulation,inspection and enforcement,and state program oversight” will now be integrated—the very tasks split out within the MMS reorganization.
Because this new order seems in direct contradiction to the 2010 SO 3299,it raises suspicion as to the true purpose of the agency reorganization—especially since the impacted industry is the administration’s favorite villain—coal.
SO 3315 was announced to the surprise of most in the industry. Charlie Boddy,a mining and government relations consultant with more than 40 years in the industry and former VP of government relations with Usibelli Coal Mine Inc.,said when he first heard the announcement,he thought it was a joke. “It is,” he said,“without a doubt,the most bizarre proposal to come out of the Obama Administration.”
The fact that there was no consultation with the stakeholders,states,or Congress raises additional concerns. If there was a desire to work with the industry,the general belief is that they would have been involved. The order’s surprise element can’t mean good things for coal mining.
On November 4,as a part of a hearing on an investigation into a re-write of the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule,Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) stated:“In addition,we will also discuss the recent Secretarial Order requiring the merger of the Office of Surface Mining with the Bureau of Land Management. A proposal I am deeply concerned about impacting the ability of the nation’s ability to access our vast coal resources. Furthermore there are clear statutory limitations prohibiting the OSM from leasing or promoting coal,which is a key responsibility of the BLM.”
Doc Hastings (R-WA),Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee,issued the following statement:“I have serious concerns about this Secretarial Order to suddenly and dramatically alter the management of coal mining and the multiple-use of Western BLM lands. The Obama Administration has not made secret its desire to put an end to America’s coal-mining industry,and this appears to be one more step in that direction.”
Because of the “bombshell” nature of the announcement,the administration’s attitude toward the coal industry,the totally different missions of the OSM and the BLM,and the fact that they operate under different specific provisions and acts of Congress,the proposed merger can only be considered suspect.
In an internal memo….