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West Virginia's Governor Suing Feds for Coal Mining Safety Policies Despite Dangers to Miners

David S. Mittleman

In April West Virginia was rocked with the tragic coal mining explosion that left no survivors in its wake. In fact, the disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine represented the largest mining tragedy of its kind since 1970, resulting in 29 deaths. In addition, the blast comes just four years after a pair of other West Virginia mining disasters–an explosion that killed 12 workers at the Sago mine and a fire that killed two at the Aracoma Alma coal mine. However, despite these disasters, West Virginia’s governor, Joe Manchin III, recently filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps. of Engineers that seeks to reverse the tighter regulations that the federal government implemented in 2009 to prevent coal mining disasters.

Mr. Manchin, who is in a tight race against his Republican opponent for the governor’s position, argues that the regulations implemented by the Obama administration last year are unlawful, usurp state’s rights, and were based in “inadequate science”. Furthermore, Mr. Manchin publicly condemned the federal government’s actions, insisting that it will destroy the West Virginian way of life.

In response to Mr. Manchin’s criticisms, the EPA maintains that its policies are based on legally and scientifically legitimate grounds. It also added that state officials in West Virginia refused to cooperate in negotiations over the past year and a half to protect mining workers, as well as the environment, by implementing proper safety precautions and sustainable mining practices.


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