Coal Tattoo


If you follow the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s Web site, you may have noticed a half-dozen or more new entries under the “News and Stories” section.

OSMRE staff have been busy posted photos and captions from agency Director Joe Pizarchik’s late January tour of the West Virginia coalfields.

There are photos like the one above (which somebody at OSMRE gave a file name “Intrepid OSM Explorers”) showing Pizarchik, third from the left, and other officials who went on a helicopter tour of mountaintop removal mining sites.  Apparently, one aircraft wasn’t enough for all the folks who went along. One of the captions says the aerial photos were “taken from the helicopter that trailed Director Pizarchik’s.”

And there are photos of  active mining sites like this one:


And of reclaimed sites like this one:


They also posted this interesting shot of a valley fill:


And this shot of what OSMRE said was a “reclaimed valley fill”:


The OSMRE Web site items include one called “Getting to Know Joe” where the agency posted a very partial transcript of an interview Pizarchik did with the media. If you want to listen to an entire such interview, visit my previous post, OSMRE’s Joe Pizarchik speaks.

They also posted a bunch of photos of Pizarchik’s meetings with local WVDEP officials and of his discussions with coalfield residents both at a local hotel conference room and out in the community.

Oddly enough, OSMRE hasn’t posted any photos or mention that Pizarchik also had dinner with West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin and met with the coal industry. We only know that because I got a copy of the itinerary for Pizarchik’s visit — only after filing a formal Freedom of Information Act request for that document. Why wouldn’t OSMRE include that in its Web site “News and Stories” section? I don’t know … it seems to me that there’s nothing with Pizarchik meeting with the industry as long as he’s talking to citizen groups too.

But keep in mind … Interior Department officials specifically forbid any news reporters from taking part in any of the scheduled meetings that were part of portion Pizarchik’s trip, and they strongly “encouraged” citizen groups and the industry to not talk about what happened. So, the general public can’t find out what was said to Pizarchik or how he responded.

We’ll just have to be satisfied with these lovely photos of our intrepid OSMRE director…