Coal Age

FEB 2012

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editor's note Proposed OSM-BLM Merger Offers Miners and Activists Common Ground BY STEVE FISCOR / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF n a questionable effort to save money and create greater effi- ciency, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has proposed merging the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) into the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). OSM is charged with balancing the nation's need for continued domestic coal production with protecting the envi- ronment. It was created in 1977 when Congress enacted the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). The Bureau of Land Management manages vast stretches of federal land (245 million acres). With respect to coal, the bureau coordi- nates the leasing process and collects royalties. I The idea immediately met with considerable criticism. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) said during late October 2011 he had seri- ous concerns about this Secretarial Order to suddenly and dramatically alter the man- agement 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," Hastings said. Not letting common sense get in the way of a bad idea, Secretary Salazar forged ahead. The Department of Interior (DoI) had originally set December 1, 2011, as the date for the merger by Executive Order, but in the face of strong opposition, it delayed the decision and decided it would hold a series of meetings around the country to solicit input from "stakeholders" on the proposed consolidation. He directed OSM and BLM officials as well as other Interior officials to report by February 15, 2012. While the final decision and the results of those discussions have not yet been made public, the reports from the meetings reinforce the fact that most people think it's a dumb idea. It is strongly opposed by almost everyone outside the DoI. One report from the Denver meeting said the explanation by officials drew jeers from a crowd of about two dozen people. A natural resources lawyer cleverly joked the Obama admin- istration had finally put forward an idea with which both miners and environmental activists could agree. The National Mining Association (NMA) attended the hearing in Washington and also noted how rarely a proposal has been so comprehensively opposed by industry and environmental stakeholders. "It's very unusual for every witness to come down against a proposal like this and still have it more forward," said NMA's Associate General Counsel Bradford Frisby, who testified against the proposal. Many have questioned the legality of the proposed merger, given the clear direc- tion the Congress gave under SMCRA. The Act says that OSM's authorities over coal mining are not to be delegated to other agencies or subordinated under other authori- ties. In May 2011, Coal Age reported how mission creep at OSM was usurping the authority of state agencies to regulate coal mining and further delaying permits. OSM abandoned the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone rule. In 2010, OSM issued a memo asserting the agency's authority to interfere with state permitting decisions, contradicting SMCRA, which grants states with an approved state program exclusive jurisdiction over surface coal operations within its borders. Considering the direction the agency has taken recently, one has to wonder was the merger simply a bad idea that should be withdrawn or is it part of a plan to further complicate the permitting process? www.mining-media.com Mining Media International Editorial Office 11555 Central Parkway, Suite 401 Jacksonville, Florida 32224 U.S.A. Phone: +1.904.721.2925 Fax: +1.904.721.2930 Editor-In-Chief—Steve Fiscor, sfiscor@mining-media.com Western Field Editor—Russ Carter, rcarter@mining-media.com European Editor—Simon Walker, simon.iets@btinternet.com Latin American Editor—Oscar Martinez, omartinez@mining-media.com Associate Editor—Gina M. Tverdak, gtverdak@mining-media.com Associate Editor & Photographer— Lee Buchsbaum, lbuchsbaum@mining-media.com Graphic Designer—Austin St. Clair, astclair@mining-media.com Mining Media International Corporate Office 8751 East Hampden, Suite B1 Denver, Colorado 80231 U.S.A. Phone: +1.303.283.0640 Fax: +1.303.283.0641 President/Publisher—Peter Johnson, pjohnson@mining-media.com Vice President of Sales & Marketing—John Bold, jbold@mining-media.com U.S. & Canada Sales Manager—Victor Matteucci, vmatteucci@mining-media.com Scandinavia, UK and European Sales Manager—Colm Barry, colm.barry@telia.com German Sales Manager—Gerd Strasmann, info@strasmann-media.de Classified Advertising—Norm Rose, nrose@mining-media.com Show Manager—Tanna Holzer, tholzer@mining-media.com Ad Traffic Manager—Erica Freeman, efreeman@mining-media.com , Volume 117, Issue 2, (ISSN 1040-7820) is published monthly by Mining Media Inc., 10 Sedgwick Drive, Englewood, Colorado 80113 (mining-media.com). Periodicals postage paid at Englewood, CO, and additional mailing offices. Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40845540. Canada return address: Station A, PO Box 54, Windsor ON N9A 6J5, Email: circulation@mining-media.com. Current and back issues and additional resources, including subscription request forms and an editorial calendar, are available online at www.coalage.com. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Free and controlled circulation to qualified subscribers. Non-qualified persons may subscribe at the following rates: USA and Canada, 1 year, $56.00, 2 year, $96.00, 3 year, $162.00, Student, $16.00, Outside the USA and Canada, 1 year, $77.00, 2 year, $137.00, 3 year, $225.00 surface mail (1 year, $145.00, 2 year, $257.00 airmail delivery). For subscriber services or to order single copies, write to , 8751 East Hampden, Suite B1, Denver, CO 80231 USA; call +1.303.283.0640 (USA) or visit www.mining-media.com. ARCHIVES AND MICROFORM: This magazine is available for research and retrieval of select- ed archived articles from leading electronic databases and online search services, including Factiva, LexisNexis, and Proquest. For microform availability, contact ProQuest at 800-521- 0600 or +1.734.761.4700, or search the Serials in Microform listings at www.proquest.com. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Steve Fiscor, Coal Age Editor-In-Chief sfiscor@mining-media.com , P.O. Box 1337, Skokie, IL 60076 USA. REPRINTS: Mining Media Inc, 8751 East Hampden, Suite B1, Denver, CO 80231 USA phone: +1.303.283.0640, fax: +1.303.283.0641, www.mining-media.com PHOTOCOPIES: Authorization to photocopy articles for internal corporate, personal, or instructional use may be obtained from the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) at +1.978.750.8400. Obtain further information at www.copyright.com. 4 www.coalage.com COPYRIGHT 2012: Coal Age, incorporating Coal and Coal Mining & Processing. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Coal Age Coal Age Coal Age

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