Born in Utah and raised in Idaho, Brent T. Wahlquist has served as the director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) since August 2007. Wahlquist holds both a a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in botany from Brigham Young University and a PhD in biology from New Mexico State University.
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 the rules of the Surface Mining Act.
He joined the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in 1983 as assistant director responsible for developing research, policy and regulations for both the active mining and abandoned mine lands programs. 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 Wahlquist moved to the regional director’s position in Denver, Colorado, where he oversaw such functions as regulating coal mines on Indian lands and the administration of abandoned mine land projects in several states. Beginning in 2002, he became the regional director for the Appalachian Region,l 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.