West Virginia is mulling a new state agency dedicated to policing dangerous coal mines in response to an explosion that killed 29 men at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine.
The state Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety plans to recommend legislation creating the agency in time for a special legislative session planned for next week. Gov. Joe Manchin asked the board, which has rulemaking authority, to recommend ways to improve safety quickly after the April 5 explosion.
Coal industry lobbyist and board member Chris Hamilton says the legislation would create a separate agency from the Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training. The new agency would select mines that need extra attention and work with them to eliminate problems. It also would have the power to enforce state mining regulations.
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