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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Coal Association had the opportunity to join Gov. Jim Justice in publicly thanking President Donald Trump for taking historic action to protect the American coal industry.

During a press conference June 7 at the West Virginia State Capitol, Justice and WVCA Senior Vice President Chris Hamilton explained to news media the importance of Trump’s June 1 directive to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Taking inspiration from the Justice’s energy plan and the governor’s public commitment to rebuilding West Virginia’s coal industry, Trump ordered Secretary Perry on June 1 to take immediate steps to protect the viability of American coal-fired and nuclear-fired power plants. Hamilton said the Trump-Justice plan calls for federal incentives to prevent the closure of additional plants. Any additional closures would weaken the nation’s electrical grid even further and risk continued reliable delivery of electric power to American homes and businesses.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. Shining a bright light on the incredible environmental stewardship in the coal industry, state regulators recognized a host of West Virginia mining operations for their reclamation and environmental stewardship during the 2018 West Virginia Mining Symposium.

The reclamation awards were announced Jan. 31 at the Charleston Civic Center, where the West Virginia Coal Association held its 45th annual symposium. Inspectors with the state Department of Environmental Protection selected the winners, and DEP Secretary Austin Caperton handed out the awards.

“Today’s awards are proof that those in the coal industry are the best, most dedicated environmentalist out there,” said Jason Bostic, vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association. “We appreciate DEP’s recognition of the incredible work our members are doing to reclaim mine sites and protect the natural beauty of West Virginia. They prove that we can mine coal that powers America and provides feedstock for steel mills.”

The top award – the Greenlands Award, went to Southeastern Land LLC for its work at the Twin Branch Surface Mine. Reclamation involved the redesign of the mining operation dramatically to lower its potential impacts to jurisdictional waters. The company worked with officials in Mingo and Logan counties, allowing excess overburden to be stored on an adjacent area while mining was in progress to help avoid stream disturbance. Additionally, the company and county officials changed the post-mining land use for the permit to include forest land and development of the Twin Branch Motorsports Complex, which includes a drag strip designed with the assistance of the International Hot Rod Association.

Other reclamation award winners are:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. The West Virginia Coal Association convened its 45th annual West Virginia Mining Symposium Jan. 30 and celebrated the safety achievements of mining industry operations across the state.

“It is an honor for us to present these awards and recognize companies that are leading the way in keeping miners and other workers safe,” said Coal Association Senior Vice President Chris Hamilton. “Our industry will not stop striving for perfection in safety. The goal always has been and always will be zero incidents.”

Inspectors with the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training evaluate all coal operations and contractors to select the winners. Deputy Director Eugene White presented the awards.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – In its most impactful decision to date for the nation’s energy security and stability, the Trump Administration has proposed repealing the so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP), and West Virginia’s coal companies could not be more elated.

“This administration continues to live up to the promises it made to the people in our coalfields,” said West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney. “We have been saying for years that the Clean Power Plan was a totally unworkable concept that would cause nothing but devastation for West Virginia’s economy while it forcibly reshaped the country’s electrical grid. With today’s announcement, we see the incredible value that comes with the Trump administration’s pragmatic review of previous environmental policies.”

In its official filing to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan regulations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the CPP requirements extend beyond what can be achieved by the country’s electric generators and exceed the statutory authority granted to EPA. Furthermore, EPA says it intends to “avoid potentially transformative economic, policy and political significance in the absence of a clear Congressional statement of intent to confer such authority on the Agency.”

Raney said West Virginia’s coal industry is continuing to enjoy a more robust market than it did just a year ago at this time, and repealing the CPP will provide even more market security for the coal industry. He said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and the West Virginia Legislature should be commended for their efforts over the last several years to combat the previous administration’s anti-coal policies and help West Virginia coal compete in the marketplace.

“All we ever have asked for is a level playing field, and repealing the CPP goes a long way toward achieving that goal,” Raney said.

Below is a letter I have sent to Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions regarding President Trump’s nomination of West Virginian – and Wheeling resident – David Zatezalo to be the new leader of the Mine Safety and Health Administration under the U.S. Department of Labor. I hope both of West Virginia’s senators – Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito – support to the fullest possible the nomination of a fellow West Virginian to such an important federal position. Mr. Zatezalo is eminently qualified for the position and would be a proud representation of the Mountain State in the Trump administration.

Dear Chairman Alexander:

I'm writing in support of the nomination of David G. Zatezalo, who has been nominated by President Trump to lead the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration under the US Department of Labor.David Zatezalo has demonstrated his competency and overall qualification throughout his 40 years of experience in the coal mining industry.From his earlier days as a UMW member and laborer to his most recent position heading up a major coal company, David has demonstrated his knowledge of mining many times over and when you add his technical training from the nation's leading mine engineering school – West Virginia University -- his experience level is unprecedented and uniquely qualifies him for this position.

As a supervisor and mine manager, David undeniably had the best interest and ensured the utmost safety for every mine worker and all fellow employees. Throughout his four (4) decades of mining, he has additionally acquired expertise in mine emergency, first responder and mine rescue applications and has earned the highest level of respect by his mining peers.  

David knows mining. He is extremely competent and extraordinarily suited to lead our nation's coal mine health and safety programs and resources. 

As a native West Virginian, he would make all of West Virginia and every miner proud to have him serve in the position of Assistant Secretary for Labor, Mine Safety and Health.

Sincerely,

Chris R. Hamilton
Senior Vice President, West Virginia Coal Association
Senior Member, West Virginia Coal Mine Health & Safety Board
Senior Member, West Virginia Mine Safety & Technical Review Committee


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