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Nominee for Director, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

James “Steven” Gardner has been nominated to serve as the Director of the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). The OSMRE’s “main role is to oversee state agencies that directly regulate mining operations within their borders,” and “also oversees state programs to reclaim abandoned mines.”

Coal consultant Steven Gardner has been involved in mining his entire career. Gardner began his career in the 1970s in the mining division of a Bethlehem Steel subsidiary. Since 1983, he has been the president and CEO of ECSI, LLC, an  engineering consulting firm that works on energy and mining development, including creating a conceptual mining plan in West Virginia that was used in a court case where owners pursued “compensation for taken and sterilized [mining] assets.” More recently, Gardner has been “a major critic of the Obama administration’s policies regarding coal mining and environmental regulations, and has been a vocal supporter of mountaintop removal coal mining.”

Sources: [Department of the Interior, Press Release, 10/26/17, Alumni profile for J. Steven Gardner, University of Kentucky, accessed 10/27/17, “Quarry Appraisal,” ECSI, LLC, 07/02/17, “Conceptual Mine Plan,” ECSI, LLC, 07/01/17, and Ken Ward Jr., “Coal consultant named to run federal strip-mine office,” Charleston Gazette-Mail, 10/26/17]

Special Interests

ECSI LLC (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Gardner is the President and CEO of ECSI, LLC, an engineering consulting firm that works on energy and mining development.

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Bethlehem Mines Corporation (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Gardner previously worked as a project engineer in the Elkhorn Division of Bethlehem Mines Corporation.

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Big K Operating Company (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Gardner previously worked as a partner and consulting engineer for Big K Operating Company, which is now part of National Coal.

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Specialty Coal Processing Inc. (Resource Development on Public Lands)

From 2003 to 2006 Gardner was the Chairman/CEO of Specialty Coal Processing Inc., a company that provided "coal products for the international Silicon Metals Industry and other specialty markets."

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Kenwill Inc. (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Gardner previously worked as Vice-President of the Engineering Division for Kenwill Inc., a position in which he "coordinated contract engineering services for approximately 20 underground mines."

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Strata Products LLC (Resource Development on Public Lands)

In 2007, Gardner managed a project for Strata Products, a company that "designs, manufactures, and distributes emergency refuge chambers and underground mining roof support products."

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Background Information

Previous Employers

ECSI

Specialty Coal Processing, Inc.

Bethlehem Mines Corporation

Big K Operating Company

Kenwill, Inc.

Additional Background on Employers of Note:

Since 1983, Steven Gardner has been the president and CEO of ECSI, LLC, a consulting firm that works on energy and mining development, including a conceptual mining plan used by owners in their court case pursuing “compensation for taken and sterilized [mining] assets.”

Since 1983, Steven Gardner has been the president and CEO of ECSI, LLC, an international engineering consulting firm that works on energy and mining development, including creating a conceptual mining plan in West Virginia that was used in a court case where owners pursued “compensation for taken and sterilized [mining] assets.”

[Alumni profile for J. Steven Gardner, University of Kentucky, accessed 10/27/17, “Quarry Appraisal,” ECSI, LLC, 07/02/17, “Conceptual Mine Plan,” ECSI, LLC, 07/01/17, and Ken Ward Jr., “Coal consultant named to run federal strip-mine office,” Charleston Gazette-Mail, 10/26/17]

In 2011, Steven Gardner gave Congressional testimony alleging that when he helped OSMRE on the stream protection rule, they had “pressured him… to tweak the data to minimize the impact the rule would have on jobs and coal production.”

During the early years of the Obama administration, Steven Gardner worked as a subcontractor to “help draft environmental documents for the Obama OSMRE’s stream protection rule.” In 2011, he “testified at a House Natural Resources Subcommittee that OSMRE had pressured him and others working on the environmental impact statement to tweak the data to minimize the impact the rule would have on jobs and coal production.”

[Esther Whieldon, “Trump taps Kentucky coal mining consultant to lead OSMRE,” Politico Pro, 10/26/17]

Steven Gardner has assessed many of the “major HUC 8 watersheds” in and around Kentucky, including one assessment preparing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “permit for a large mountaintop mining operation” within a 360,000 acres HUC 8 watershed.

While at ECSI, LLC, Steven Gardner created an assessment to prepare the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “permit for a large mountaintop mining operation… includ[ing] taking a cross-section of impacts within a HUC 8 watershed (360,000 acres), collecting and analyzing macroinvertebrate sampling and surface water monitoring.”

[Alumni profile for J. Steven Gardner, University of Kentucky, accessed 10/27/17]

Steven Gardner has also organized “similar” assessment projects “on the other five major HUC 8 watersheds in Eastern Kentucky, which are arguably the largest watershed assessments done to date.”

[Alumni profile for J. Steven Gardner, University of Kentucky, accessed 10/27/17]

Political Connections

Since 2004, Steven Gardner has contributed at least $5,000 to Republican candidates and causes, including Andy Barr, Hal Rogers, and Rand Paul.

[Political Moneyline search for James Gardner, CQ, accessed 10/27/17]

Other Information

Steven Gardner claimed the government “sometimes makes bad scientific decisions” about mining and “incorrectly find[s] environmental, safety or health problems associated with mining.”

According to Gardner, many times the decisions are based on “incomplete or misleading interpretation of data or in reaction to a public outcry on a particular incident.”

[“J. Steven Gardner; An Interview with the 2015 SME President,” Mining Engineering Magazine, 03/15]

Steven Gardner has claimed that the “image of mining routinely portrayed is very misleading,” and that “the Sierra Club and activist groups [have] used fear and exaggeration that many accepted as fact.”

[J. Steven Gardner Op-Ed, “J. Steven Gardner: ‘War on coal’ real, inflicting serious pain,” Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/08/14]

Steven Gardner supports “the economic development of reclaimed mountaintop surface mines.”

[J. Steven Gardner Op-Ed, “Overturned rule was unfair, unscientific attack on coal,” Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/17/17]

Steven Gardner believes there is “no such thing as renewable energy.”

[J. Steven Gardner Op-Ed, “Overturned rule was unfair, unscientific attack on coal,” Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/17/17]

In 2015, Steven Gardner was the President of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME).

[Department of the Interior, Press Release, 10/26/17]

Steven Gardner “served on the Tennessee Department of Labor’s volunteer mine rescue team.”

[Alumni profile for J. Steven Gardner, University of Kentucky, accessed 10/27/17]