"We must always be looking for ways to make government work better, to build on our strengths and to get the most out of the limited resources we have," Salazar said.
Salazar specifically asked leaders and employees in the two agencies to hold discussions about the restoration of abandoned mine lands, collecting federal fees and oversight of state regulatory agencies.
OSM Director Joe Pizarchik said, "OSM has a strong record over the last two and a half years of providing strong and effective enforcement of surface coal mining and of ensuring timely reclamation of disturbed lands and waters.
"The secretary has asked us to build on our strengths by looking at how we can best integrate certain functions with the BLM, so that we are making the most effective use of limited resources."
Today, OSM has 525 employees based in the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C. and three regional offices in Charleston, W.Va.; Alton, Ill.; and Denver.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public lands, more than any other agency, primarily located in 12 western states.
Rahall said Salazar's announcement will begin "a four-month process. He said he could make all the changes administratively.
"This came all of a sudden, out of the clear-blue. I have no idea where the proposal was hatched, perhaps by some pinhead at the Office of Budget and Management," he said.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-3348-5164.