The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Nick Berning, 202-222-0748
Ben Schreiber, 202-222-0752

Controversial Pizarchik Surface Mining Nomination Advances Out of Committee; Key Democrats Voice Opposition


The nomination of Joseph Pizarchik to the head the federal Office of
Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement advanced out of the Energy
and Natural Resources Committee today by voice vote.

The nomination has come under fire from groups concerned because of
Pizarchik's poor environmental and human health record during his
tenure at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's
Bureau of Mining and Reclamation. Pizarchik had a record of siding with
the coal industry on issues including the improper dumping of toxic
coal combustion waste and the regulation of long-wall mining.

Because of this poor record, three Democratic Senators entered
statements into the record opposing Pizarchik's nomination during
today's vote.

Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica had the following statement in response:

"Joseph Pizarchik is the wrong person to fill this critical
position. As a state-level official in Pennsylvania, he was far too
cozy with the coal industry, making decisions that harmed the
environment and threatened drinking water. He should not be put in
charge of a federal office responsible for regulating the coal
industry. Friends of the Earth urges President Obama to withdraw this
flawed nomination.

Friends of the Earth thanks Senators Robert Menendez, Bernard
Sanders, Ron Wyden for their opposition to Pizarchik's nomination. We
strongly urge all Senators to follow their leadership if this
nomination comes to the Senate floor."

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is
responsible for monitoring and enforcing the Surface Mining Control and
Reclamation Act. This ground-breaking law is the primary law used to
regulate coal mining and to protect lands and waters that are adversely
affected by coal mining. Over the past two decades enforcement of this
law and related Clean Water Act regulations has been lax, leading to an
acceleration of the practice of mountaintop removal mining in

An August 5 letter Friends of the Earth sent to senators opposing this nomination can be found at

Friends of the Earth fights for a more healthy and just world. Together we speak truth to power and expose those who endanger the health of people and the planet for corporate profit. We organize to build long-term political power and campaign to change the rules of our economic and political systems that create injustice and destroy nature.

(202) 783-7400