Former SME President in the running to be head of Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
J. Steven Gardner, 2015 President of SME, is the leading candidate to become the nation's top coal mining regulator according to E&E News.
While Trump administration has yet to nominate a director of federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), E&E News reports that Gardner’s name has been one that has been in the rumor mill since shortly after the election of Trump to be President of the United States.
The Interior Department, which oversees OSMRE, presently has no personnel announcements, a spokeswoman said.
Gardner, chief executive officer of Lexington, KY-based science and engineering consulting firm ECSI LLC, has tussled with the OSMRE in the past.
ECSI was part of a multicompany team hired to analyze the potential economic impacts of the Stream Protection Rule. His team's work touched off a firestorm by suggesting an early version of the rule would jeopardize thousands of mining jobs. OSMRE disavowed the numbers.
Gardner testified before Congress that he and other team members refused to change their assumptions for calculating the rule's impact under pressure from OSMRE and were subsequently fired (E&E News PM, Nov. 18, 2011).
"He combines two traits always in short supply: expertise and principles," National Mining Association spokesman Luke Popovich said. "He was the OSM consultant that quit rather than bow to team Obama's demand that he minimize job impacts from his analysis of the stream rule."