Director, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
An Indiana County, Pennsylvania native, Joseph Pizarchik attended the Pennsylvania State University, first at the Altoona Campus and then graduating from University Park in 1979. He earned a law degree at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law. After working in the private sector, he began his career in government service in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Chief Counsel Office. In 1991, he joined the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, initially in the Bureau of Regulatory Counsel, where he served as counsel to the mining program. He helped develop Pennsylvania’s program for volunteers to clean up abandoned coal refuse sites and provided key legal support in the development of Pennsylvania’s program for mine operators to establish trust funds to meet their financial obligation to perpetually treat the discharges caused by their mining.
In 2002, Governor Mark Schweiker named Pizarchik director of the Bureau of Mining and Reclamation. His responsibilities there included directing the planning, development, implementation, coordination, and evaluation of statewide programs designed to regulate blasting and to regulate coal and non-coal mining and reclamation activities in the Commonwealth. Pizarchik also worked with the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security and the Pennsylvania State Police to ensure explosive storage sites were secured against unauthorized entry. He was also responsible for the operation of the Commonwealth’s Mine Subsidence Insurance Program and expanded policy coverage while lowering policy premiums.
Pizarchik was one of the authors of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Good Samaritan Act and provided counsel during the development and implementation of the Good Samaritan program. Pizarchik is also credited with helping clear the way for the sale of private mining property to the Families of Flight 93 to enable the construction of the national memorial, a project to which he remains committed.
Previously, Pizarchik served as Pennsylvania’s representative to the Interstate Mining Compact Commission, as a member of Pennsylvania’s Mine Subsidence Insurance Board, and as the treasurer of the Conference of Government Mining Attorneys. He also was a faculty member of Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s Environmental Law Forum and served in the Office of General Counsel’s Continuing Legal Education.
Pizarchik was nominated by President Obama for OSMRE director in July 2009 and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in November 2009.
In 2010, Pizarchik was named a Penn State Alumni Fellow, and in 2011, he was named Outstanding Alumnus of Penn State Altoona.