The environmental legacies of Pennsylvania’s industrial past and the challenge of remediation and restoration will be the topic of discussion in the June 19 installment of “Environmental Focus,” the PA Environmental Council’s monthly environmental affairs television program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.
The program will air Sunday, June 19 at 4 p.m.
Two hundred years of extracting natural resources such as timber, oil, gas, and coal have taken a heavy toll on the Pennsylvania landscape. And many of the facilities that used to process those materials have been abandoned, leaving behind contaminated brownfields.
The historical impacts of this extraction have left Pennsylvania with major environmental challenges and insufficient funds to pay for the cleanup.
The half-hour television show features an interview with Joe Pizarchik, the Director of the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement at the U.S. Department of the Interior, who describes the complexity of reclaiming abandoned coal mines and preventing the pollution of streams and waterways from mine discharges, a task he estimates will cost as much as $15 billion.
Then a roundtable discussion picks up on this topic with Kurt Klapkowski, the Director of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management at the Department of Environmental Protection and Davitt Woodwell, president of the PA Environmental Council.
“There is somewhere in the neighborhood of 180,000-200,000 abandoned orphaned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania,” says Klapkowski. “We’re trying to discover where they are because they can cause all kinds of problems.
“The funding to address these legacy issues is relatively limited,” he adds. “At the current rate, we think it’s going to take somewhere around 100 years to address all the legacy wells that are out there.”
Previous editions of “Environmental Focus” have featured topics such as methane emissions from natural gas development, gas pipelines, diseased fish in the Susquehanna River, conservation of the Delaware River watershed, the Pennsylvania capital budget, and other topics.
Joe Pizarchik came to his position at OSM after working for 18 years in the Department of Environmental Protection, first as counsel to DEP’s mining programs and then serving as Director of the Bureau of Mining and Reclamation from 2002 to 2009.
Pizarchik was one of the authors of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Good Samaritan Act when promoted the reclamation of abandoned mine lands by nonprofit groups 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.
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