The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

March 8, 2013

Morrisey: State’s mining interests will be protected

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey told mining industry officials Thursday he will carefully monitor the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s reach into West Virginia and protect the state’s interests.

The EPA has repeatedly sparred with the mining industry over permits and their effect on clean water, particularly for mountaintop removal mining operations. Earlier this month, Gina McCarthy was nominated by President Barack Obama to lead the EPA.

Morrisey, who took office in January, said his staff will ensure that West Virginia’s interests are protected when the EPA proposes rules concerning air quality standards and when Obama takes administrative actions.

“This is where we begin to develop the legal theories to make sure that the EPA is going to be adhering to the rule of law much more carefully,” Morrisey said at the 40th annual West Virginia Mining Symposium conducted by the West Virginia Coal Association.  

“We’ve had a lot of success in past lives where we’re able to get involved early in the process and send a message to these federal regulatory bodies that they can’t act in an arbitrary and capricious manner,” said Morrisey, who previously worked as a partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm. “And I think that people realize that the West Virginia attorney general’s office is going to be far more aggressive than you’ve ever seen previously.”

Other speakers included CONSOL Energy President Nicholas Deluliis, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation.

Deluliis said West Virginia must improve its safety culture and close what he called the “reputation-reality gap” if it’s to participate fully in the nation’s energy future.

His company was coming off its safest year on record when it suffered recent fatalities at its Robinson Run and Loveridge mines in northern West Virginia. Deluliis said the tragedies “have tested our spirit and forced us all to look inward for answers.”

“We suffer from what some experts call a ‘reputation-reality gap,”’ he said, describing how the reality of the industry’s overall safety record compares with the public’s perception.

“The reality is that safety is rapidly improving every year,” he said.

But DeIuliis said incremental improvements aren’t good enough.

“The only acceptable result for everyone in this room should be zero accidents across all of our operations,” he said.

Operators are embracing new technology, new communications and employee awareness programs, he said. But the biggest challenge — the mindset of miners themselves — has no technological or engineering fix.

“Getting to zero accidents is 20 percent process safety and 80 percent decision-making and personal choice,” he said, “and therein lies our greatest challenge.

Safety is not just the responsibility of the company or the employee, DeIuliis said.

“They are our collective responsibility — from the guy mining coal at the face to the accountant at headquarters to the senior management team,” he said. “CONSOL Energy will lead. We will collaborate. We will listen. We will follow. We will do whatever it takes to get at the heart of this issue.”

Tomblin, who ordered safety talks for more than 500 West Virginia coal operations after a string of deaths, said those talks are complete. Tomblin ordered the one-hour talks with employees last month after four mining deaths in a period of two weeks.

Tomblin didn’t provide details Thursday and state mine safety director Eugene White was unavailable to answer questions. Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training spokeswoman Leslie Fitzwater said figures are still being compiled on the number of workers involved in the talks.

Text Only
West Virginia
  • Gee’s move could save Ohio State millions

    Ohio State University expects to save millions of dollars because former president Gordon Gee is giving up part of his retirement package as he becomes president of West Virginia University for the second time.

    April 19, 2014

  • W.Va. AG court filings: Dismiss gun law question

    The attorney general says a court challenge should be dismissed over whether West Virginians can bring guns to city recreational facilities that hold school events.
    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s filings Thursday argue the city of Charleston shouldn’t receive court guidance on how to implement a state gun law.

    April 18, 2014

  • Energy-state Dems split from Obama

    Scrapping to keep a West Virginia Senate seat Democratic in a state that’s sprinted to the right, Natalie Tennant is counting on her allegiance to the coal industry to separate herself from an unpopular President Barack Obama.
    Her approach reflects common Democratic strategy and tactics this midterm election year in energy-producing states that lean Republican: Sen. Mary Landrieu is vying for a fourth term representing Louisiana; Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is running for re-election for the first time; and Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to replace Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    April 17, 2014

  • Official: $2M in chemical spill costs reimbursable

    Public agencies and nonprofits that helped after a Jan. 9 chemical leak into the water supply could receive $2 million in reimbursements for their emergency work, a West Virginia homeland security official said.
    Federal and state emergency officials briefed fire departments, paramedics and other government groups Wednesday on how to recoup costs.

    April 17, 2014

  • Manchin urges mines to speak out for coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014

  • Many schools already meet new mandate for breakfast

    Many West Virginia public schools have changed the way they serve breakfast to students ahead of a requirement that goes into effect in September.

    April 14, 2014

  • W.Va. grower promotes unmodified feed corn

    Lyle Tabb is hoping that his non-genetically modified corn will take off with farmers who can charge top dollar for “all natural” eggs.
    Genetically modified or GMO corn has greatly simplified the process of getting rid of weeds, but has also substantially increased the amount of a chemical call glyphosate.

    April 13, 2014

  • Geologists link small quakes to fracking

    Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation’s strictest.
    A state investigation of five small tremors last month in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, found the injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link “probable.”

    April 12, 2014

  • Phares looks forward to retirement

    James Phares looked forward to the challenge and opportunity to help make a difference in a state education system under fire when he was hired in late 2012 as West Virginia’s schools superintendent.
    After 18 months, Phares will be stepping down on June 30 — which he said was set long ago as the day at age 61 that he’d walk with his wife into retirement.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teacher planning, abortion ban among W.Va. vetoes

    Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed about 200 bills and nixed eight this year, leaving teachers and abortion opponents unsatisfied.

    April 7, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads