Is Salazar Breaking the Law?
The US Department of Interior’s plan to merge the Office of Surface Mining into the much larger Bureau of Land Management was met with stinging criticism by lawmakers during a subcommittee hearing Friday.
Last week Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced his plans to merge the functions of OSM, which primarily oversees state regulation of coal mining on private land, with the BLM, which has a broader agenda to allegedly allow multiple uses of public lands including leasing areas for oil, gas or renewable energy development; permitting hard-rock mining for uranium, cooper and other mineral extraction; and currently to strip federal lands free of native, wild horses and burros in violation of current laws and congressional mandates.
Salazar’s order will go into effect December 1, without a congressional hearing or vote, following consultation with department staff and the White House. The order directs Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes to consult with OSM and BLM staff and develop a plan by March 1, 2012 to boost efficiency across the agencies by integrating administrative functions, abandoned mine restoration, fee collection and regulation, inspection and enforcement responsibilities across the two agencies.
“It is a proposal I am deeply concerned about impacting the ability of the nation to access our vast coal reserves,” said House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Committee Chairman Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican. “Furthermore there are clear statutory limitations prohibiting the OSM from leasing or promoting coal which is one of the key responsibilities of BLM.”
But lawmakers from both parties raised concerns about the merger. A number of Republican members including Representative Bill Flores of Texas questioned whether Interior has the statutory authority to merge the two agencies.
Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey, the committee’s leading Democrat, asked for assurances that the merger would not impact the agency’s oversight.
- Department of Interior Kingpin Pulling “Fast-One” with Merger of BLM and OSM? (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- Congressmen Send Letter to Salazar to Halt Costly and Deadly BLM Wild Horse Stampedes, AGAIN (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- Federal Judge Orders BLM to “Answer” Wild Horse Inhumane Charges (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- Breaking News: Congressman Grijalva Letter Seeks Congressional Support for Wild Horses (rtfitch.wordpress.com)
- Fitch Outs BLM Employee Who Advocates Hunting Season on Wild Horses (rtfitch.wordpress.com)