"President Obama's choice to be the nation's top strip-mining regulator said Thursday he needs to learn more about mountaintop removal coal mining before he can comment on whether it needs to be more strictly policed.
Joseph G. Pizarchik declined to offer his views on the practice and its regulation during a U.S. Senate committee hearing on his nomination as director of the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.
Pizarchik also declined to answer questions about an Obama administration proposal to make major changes in the federal Abandoned Mine Lands program, but defended his record in Pennsylvania regulating the dumping of toxic coal ash at mining sites.
'With the science we have, we have not had any evidence of pollution of groundwater caused by the use of coal ash at these mine sites,' Pizarchik said in response to questions from Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.
A group of Pennsylvania citizens and the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Integrity Project said Thursday that their own reviews have 'uncovered substantial evidence of the contamination of water supplies from this practice.'"