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.

 

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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