Senate Unanimously Confirms Controversial Mining Pick

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The Senate on Friday unanimously confirmed the nomination of Joseph Pizarchik to serve as Director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. As we recently reported, Pizarchik is a controversial figure whose nomination was protested by many coal-field activists in his home state of Pennsylvania.

Pizarchik has served as the director of Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Mining and Reclamation since 2002, where he has overseen mining permits and the enforcement of environmental rules related to mining and waste disposal. Residents of Pennsylvania mining areas say that he was too cozy with the coal industry and did not enforce existing environmental laws. Multiple senators on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee expressed concerns about his record in his confirmation hearing in August.

One mystery senator placed an anonymous hold on the nomination, and two—Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—voted against him in committee. But apparently the hold was removed earlier this week, allowing a voice vote to go forward Friday afternoon. Mother Jones is still trying to get comment from Menendez and Sanders about whether they did, in fact, change their minds about the nomination.

 

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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