Tomorrow morning, members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will get a chance to question Joseph G. Pizarchik, President Obama’s pick to run the Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.
I’d love to interview Pizarchik. But nominees for these jobs typically don’t do interviews. They’re told to keep their mouths shut until the Senate confirms them. But if I could ask some questions at tomorrow’s hearing, here are a few I’d throw at Pizarchik:
— Would you enforce the buffer zone rule in a manner that would truly limit the size of streams buried by strip-mine valley fills? Would you read the rule to apply to the footprint of these fills, or would you continue to exempt those areas, making the rule meaningless?
— How would you define the reclamation term “approximate original contour” and would you move quickly to write a national regulation to more clearly define AOC?
— What would you do about the continued failure of the coal industry to propose post-mining development plans for the mountaintop removal sites if flattens across Appalachia?
— What else would you do at OSMRE to deal with the tremendous water pollution and other damage being done across West Virginia and other Appalachian coalfields by mountaintop removal?
— How would you push OSMRE to use the Abandoned Mine Land program and other federal efforts to bring the green jobs that President Obama keeps promising to laid-off coal miners and others in coalfield communities?
— Would steps would you take at OSMRE to reduce the damage to historic buildings, homes and to water supplies and creeks from longwall underground mining, especially in the southwestern coalfields of your home state of Pennsylvania. This damage has been well documented by Don Hopey at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and by the Center for Investigative Reporting.
–Â How in the world would you rebuild and agency that is in such terrible shape, as outlined in a report by the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and in citizen testimony to hearings before committees of both the Senate and the House?
Anybody who wants some answers to these questions might take a look at a previous guest blog on Coal Tattoo by Tom FitzGerald of the Kentucky Resources Council.
And if readers have questions of their own, please add them below in the comments section.