Coal Tattoo

When we last left our friends at the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, they were struggling to avoid talking about the leaked version of the Environmental Impact Statement on their changes to the stream “buffer zone” rule.

OSMRE Director Joe Pizarchik did issue a strange “Dear editors and publishers” letter responding to the initial Associated Press story that covered only the potential job losses projected from what is clearly a very incomplete OSMRE analysis of the situation.

But Pizarchik has hardly said much in defense of his agency’s efforts, or publicly explained his agency’s role in the Obama administration’s efforts to reduce the environmental damage from mountaintop removal.

His performance in defending or even explaining his agency’s job — protecting the people and environment of the coalfields from the potential dangers and damage of strip mining — is certainly a contrast to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, who this week was very aggressive in responding to congressional critics of her agency’s work implementing the Clean Air Act.

I keep asking for an interview with Pizarchik to give him the chance to speak up about all of this … but his PR agents keep telling me he just doesn’t have time in his schedule for me.

In the meantime, though, I thought that Coal Tattoo readers might be interested in taking a look at the draft regulatory language for its “stream protection rule” that OSMRE has been working on. There is a version for surface mining and a version for underground mining.

I told OSMRE spokesman Peter Mali we were going to share these documents with the public, and would love to give Joe Pizarchik a chance to answer some questions … as I said, though, Joe isn’t talking — but the Interior Department PR machine seems more interested in churning out statements than engaging with the media and the public. Here’s another prepared statement from OSMRE:

There is no Stream Protection Rule at this time, just various drafts of a work in progress. The OSM Director will comment on the proposed rule when it has been published. The proposed rule, once released later this year, will be subject to a public comment period. We continue to work on refinements to our rules to ensure solid, well-paying jobs in the nation’s coal-producing regions and better strike the balance between protecting the environment while maintaining coal as an essential energy supply.