PEER weighs in on Obama OSM(RE) pick

September 2, 2009 by Ken Ward Jr.

pizarchik.JPGThe group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has weighed in on President Obama’s nomination of Joseph Pizarchik to run the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

In a statement, PEER said:

President Obama’s choice to run the Office of Surface Mining signifies that campaign promises to end environmentally destructive coal mining practices, such as mountain-top removal, will be abandoned.

Placating the coal industry is evolving into the central plank of the administration’s environmental agenda.

PEER said that, while running Pennsylvania’s mining regulatory program, Pizarchik has been “solidly pro industry” on topics like acid mine drainage, longwall subsidence, and using mining slag for valley fills. In particular, PEER noted:

Pizarchik has become a leading advocate for disposal of toxic industrial coal ash in coal mine sites, contending that it is a “beneficial use” of the same coal combustion waste involved in the disastrous TVA spill this past December.

PEER also noted:

Perhaps most disturbingly, during his August 6th confirmation hearing Pizarchik claimed ignorance on the issue of mountain-top removal or what changes the Obama administration might propose, since that mining technique is not widely used in his state. Given his industry orientation and the administration’s aversion to reformers, it would be more than mildly surprising for Pizarchik to ultimately take a strong environmental stand once confirmed. The Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources has yet to vote on his nomination.

Jeff Ruch, executive director of PEER, said:

It is appointments like this that are causing many to become disillusioned with the Obama presidency. Putting forward a nominee who claims ignorance on a central issue so that his true position cannot be discerned is the sort of cynical politics I thought President Obama vowed to change.

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