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West Virginia Senate Advances Mining Bill with Inspections

Will Price
West Virginia Legislative Photography
Sen. Randy Smith is the chair of the Senate's Energy Committee.

West Virginia lawmakers have begun advancing revisions in coal mining regulation after removing provisions that would have sharply reduced safety inspections of underground mines.

The Senate Committee on Energy, Industry and Mining approved a substitute bill that would have chopped required annual state safety inspections from four to one.

It also would have removed inspectors' authority to order mine closures after documenting "a history of repeated significant and substantial violations of a particular standard caused by unwarrantable failure to comply."

The United Mine Workers of America opposed the changes, noting the state standards are stricter than the federal standards and inspections that would remain.

The new bill represents a consensus worked out among the union, coal operators and Gov. Jim Justice's administration.

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