Joseph G. Pizarchik
as nominee to be
Director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
Department of the Interior
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
August 6, 2009
Thank you, Chairman Bingaman and Senators. I am honored to appear before you as President Obama's nominee to head the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement at the Department of the Interior. I thank President Obama and Secretary Salazar for their confidence in me and I thank you for considering my nomination.
I appreciate the opportunity to present my background and qualifications. The majority of my career has been in public service for the
For the past 17 years I have been engaged in Pennsylvania's mining program, first as legal counsel and then as the Director of the Bureau of Mining and Reclamation, where I have worked on a variety of projects. Under the guidance of Kathleen McGinty, then Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, we developed and implemented a policy, based on sound scientific and legal principles, to protect streams from underground coal mining subsidence without shutting down mining. I was also assigned the responsibility and did resolve a postmining discharge liability matter that was blocking progress on the Flight 93 National Memorial. While working closely with the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security, I led the state effort to secure explosive storage magazines. These security measures, the only ones of their kind in the country, greatly reduced the risk to the nation's capital and other major East Coast cities. The number of break-ins and thefts of explosives in
I understand and appreciate the interests and duties of the states and federal government and the roles of citizens, environmentalists, and industry in protecting the environment and our citizens while helping to meet
I have represented
As a member of the Executive Branch, I see my duty as executing the laws enacted by the legislators and, at times, as interpreted by the courts. The laws are to be implemented for the benefit of
If confirmed, I will be leaving a corps of state government employees dedicated to implementing the laws to protect
On a more personal note, I grew up on a small farm in southwestern
When I was 10, my brothers and I assumed full operation of the farm. We planted and harvested all of the crops, cared for the livestock, and repaired and maintained the equipment and buildings. My brother owns and runs that farm today. Through that experience I learned the value of hard work, cooperative decision making, work distribution, and completing a job the right way the first time. The values and work ethic instilled in me as a kid are still with me.
Coal was a part of our daily lives; that's how we heated our home. I also knew many people who worked in the mines so I saw first-hand the value placed on a job in the mines tempered by the effects of poor safety regulations and the environmental havoc wreaked by unfettered mining. Through friends and family I witnessed the benefits of improved safety and environmental standards.
Like four of my siblings, I worked my way through college using a combination of summer jobs, work study, education grants, and Social Security, as my dad died while I was in high school. I have worked as a laborer for masons, in general construction, in a plant that fabricated steel buildings, in flood cleanup, and as a security guard. After getting my BA from the
It would be an honor and privilege to serve
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to testify. I am ready to answer questions.