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Name: Pizarchik, Joseph
Current Position: Previous Director

One of President Obama’s most controversial nominations has been that of Joseph Pizarchik to be the Director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), a bureau within the US Department of the Interior (DOI) charged with the competing tasks of promoting coal production in the US while also trying to protect and restore the land that has been ravaged by surface, or strip, mining. For the most part, OSM has been successful in implementing the first task and failed miserably at the second. The agency has long been viewed as a favored ally of the coal industry, much to the frustration of environmentalists and local activists in states like Kentucky and West Virginia. These activists, including the mainstream Sierra Club, sharply criticized the Pizarchik nomination, both because they wanted someone who had been an active critic of such practices as mountaintop removal mining and coal ash storage, and because they contend that Pizarchik has either evaded opining on mountaintop removal or denied the science regarding coal ash storage. Among Pennsylvania environmentalists, he is known as “Coal Ash Joe.” Pizarchik’s nomination was approved by the Senate November 6, 2009.

Pizarchik grew up on a farm in Southwestern Pennsylvania. He earned a B.A. in pre-law from Pennsylvania State University in 1979 and a law degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law in 1983. After completing law school and passing the Pennsylvania Bar, Pizarchik worked as a claims counsel and Workers’ Compensation subrogation supervisor for the Rockwood Insurance Co. from 1984 to 1985, and then as an associate at the York, Pennsylvania, law firm of Hoffmeyer and Semmelman from 1985 to 1986. 
Pizarchik began his career in public service in 1986 as assistant counsel in the Office of Chief Counsel for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, where he served until 1991. In that year, he began his career at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, serving as Assistant Director, Bureau of Regulatory Counsel, where he counseled the Pennsylvania mining program for 11 years. He was one of the authors of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Good Samaritan Act, which helps protect landowners from liability when they voluntarily clean up abandoned mines and oil and gas wells. Pizarchik helped develop Pennsylvania’s program for volunteers to clean up abandoned coal refuse sites and helped develop Pennsylvania’s program for mine operators to establish trust funds as a means of meeting their financial obligation to ensure funds are available to perpetually treat the discharges caused by their mining. 
On October 4, 2002, Pizarchik took over as director of the Bureau of Mining and Reclamation within Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection. In this position, he supported the practice of dumping waste rock into valley fills, and using abandoned mines to store coal-ash waste, a practice studies have shown to be environmentally harmful.
He is a past Treasurer of the Conference of Government Mining Attorneys
Citizens oppose Obama’s latest favorite for OSM(RE) (by Ken Ward, Charleston (WV) Gazette)
Obama’s OSM pick dodges questions on mountaintop removal (by Ken Ward, Charleston (WV) Gazette)
Breaking: Suit Cites Chronic Pizarchik Failure (by Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post)

Groups against federal mining nominee (by Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)    

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