Director of the Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
Brent T. Wahlquist was confirmed by the Senate on August 3, 2007 (the 30th Anniversary of the Surface Mining Act) to serve as Director of Interiors Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Established by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, OSMs mission is to balance the nations 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.
Wahlquist has extraordinary experience in managing the technical, administrative, environmental, regulatory, energy and policy issues affecting the coal industry and has served at OSM for 24 years. He joined OSM in 1983 and as Assistant Director was responsible for developing research, policy and regulations for both the active mining and abandoned mine lands programs at a time when states were moving to primacy.
He then became a Regional Director for the newly formed Mid-Continent Region for OSM, beginning in 1995 by organizing this office while providing grant and program oversight along with a technical assistance and training program for eleven coal producing states.
In 1999 he moved to the Regional Directors position in Denver, Colorado, turning his expertise to that offices functions as the regulatory authority for coal mines on Indian lands and the administration of abandoned mine land projects for states without primacy
Since 2002 he has been the Regional Director for the Appalachian Region which provides grants oversight and technical assistance to six Appalachian states, functions as the regulatory authority in Tennessee, addresses Abandoned Mine Lands emergencies in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, and manages the nationwide Applicant/Violator system. In 2005 he received a Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive Service.
With degrees in Botany and Biology, Wahlquist began his professional career in 1971 with Westinghouse Electric as a principle investigator/project manager on environmental studies for electric generating stations, transmission lines and coal mines. He continued working with the environmental aspects of mining, moving to the Rocky Mountain Energy Corporation and then to the Carbon Fuel Corporation in West Virginia in 1978 where he concentrated on meeting the requirements being developed under the 1977 Surface Mining law.
Wahlquist began his government career in 1982 when he was appointed Deputy Director of the West Virginia State Water Resources Division and Reclamation Division at the time it was implementing primacy under the Surface Mining Act.
Born in Utah and raised in Idaho, Wahlquist holds a PhD in biology from New Mexico State University, and both a masters and a bachelors degree in botany from Brigham Young University.