Thursday, March 03, 2022

GOP pushes to strip safety measures from West Va mining law


AP -  Associated Press


Tue, March 1, 2022, 6:58 PM

 West Virginia Republicans forged ahead Tuesday with an overhaul of mine safety regulation that would strip the state of its ability to cite coal companies for unsafe working conditions.

They blocked an effort by Democrats to derail the measure. That came a day after dozens of miners and former miners gathered at the Capitol on Monday night, helmets in hand, to testify against the bill. The hearing happened the same day a veteran coal miner died in southern West Virginia. He was pinned by an air drill.

During the hearing, miners said the regulations keep them safer.


 It essentially would strip the state office of miners’ health, safety and training of its ability to enforce laws — in fact, it eliminates all enforcement language from state code.

Instead of going to mines for inspections, inspectors will go for “visits” and make “recommendations” instead of “orders.” There would be no more “investigations," just “reviews.”

The proposal would remove almost all penalties mining companies might face for safety violations. Under current law, companies can face thousands of dollars of fines and even prison time for failing to implement safety measures. The state can also close down portions of a mine or an entire mine.


The proposed bill removes the requirement for the minimum number of “visits” that must take place a year and the mandate that mines cannot be warned ahead of time about inspections. It also cuts the requirement that a miner representative be allowed to attend.


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