125 Pennsylvania Coal Field Residents and EIP Express Strong Concerns About Head of PA State Mining Agency as Director of U.S. Office of Surface Mining

Aug 06, 2009

State’s Coal Field Citizens and Environmental Integrity Project Cite Official’s Intransigent Position on Coal Ash Minefilling and Other Destructive Practices as Harmful to Pennsylvania

In separate letters to the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, EIP and 125 residents of Pennsylvania expressed serious concerns about the policies Mr. Pizarchik promoted as head of Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Mining and Reclamation.  In Pennsylvania, Pizarchik has aggressively championed the controversial practice of storing large volumes of coal combustion wastes at surface coal mines – which is known as “minefilling.”  Several studies, including “Impacts on Water Quality from Placement of Coal Combustion Waste in Pennsylvania Coal Mines,”  have documented the contamination of water supplies from this coal industry practice.

The sign-on letter from 125 Pennsylvania coal field residents cites Mr. Pizarchik’s policies that have been hostile to citizen input, have buried streams in valley fills of coal refuse, have promoted destructive long wall mining and coal mines being used as dumps for toxic coal combustion wastes.  In a separate letter sent to Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Senator Jeff Bingaman, Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) Director Eric Schaeffer said: “Mr. Pizarchik has been an outspoken advocate of [minefilling] throughout his seven-year tenure as the Director of the Bureau of Mining and Reclamation within the PADEP.  He continues to insist, despite volumes of evidence to the contrary, that there is no evidence of degradation to water from coal ash in any Pennsylvania coal mine.  After resisting regulation of minefilling for many years, Mr. Pizarchik has recently responded with a proposal that still falls well short of the standards needed to protect groundwater and surface water.”