Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | August 6, 2009

Kentucky attorney Sanders says Pennsylvania environmental group protesting nomination of Joseph Pizarchik to OSM.

125 Pennsylvania coal field residents sent a joint letter to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in opposition to the nomination of Joseph Pizarchik to serve as the new director of the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM). Pizarchik currently heads the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Mining and Reclamation.

 According to the group, Pizarchik has championed the controversial practice of storing large volumes of coal combustion wastes at surface coal mines – which is known as “minefilling” in Pennsylvania.   Several studies, including “Impacts on Water Quality from Placement of Coal Combustion Waste in Pennsylvania Coal Mines,” have documented the contamination of water supplies from this coal industry practice.

 The letter objects to Mr. Pizarchik’s policies that have been hostile to citizen input, have buried streams in valley fills of coal refuse, have promoted destructive long wall mining and coal mines being used as dumps for toxic coal combustion wastes.

 In part, the letter states:

  •  These examples offer a disturbing picture of why Mr. Pizarchik is the wrong choice to be the Director of the US Office of Surface Mining. Quite clearly, Mr. Pizarchik’s record demonstrates that he has not viewed the protection of our property, health and environment as a priority to be treated with the same emphasis under SMCRA as the need to mine coal as easily as possible . . .
  •  We believe Mr. Pizarchik will not effectively enforce [the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act] and therefore should not be confirmed as the Director of [OSM] by the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. We ask that the Committee fully consider Mr. Pizarchik’s record and that a panel of affected PA coalfield citizens be given the opportunity to testify at his confirmation hearing.”

 The full text of the letter can be accessed online at:


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