"Today, the House of Delegates passed Senate Bill 357, the so-called Creating Coal Jobs and Safety Act of 2015.
Today, for the first time in my nineteen years in the West Virginia Legislature, the House of Delegates voted to roll back mine safety.
Today, the nine miners who spurred strict enforcement of mine safety laws could not be here to witness the tragedy of passage of this legislation. Those 9 miners could not be here to witness the repeal of these mine safety regulations because they lost their lives in the Blacksville No. 1 Mine Fire in 1972.
In 1972, those nine miners lost their lives because of weak enforcement of mine safety regulations. Those nine miners could not object today to the weakening of mine safety in the State of West Virginia. Those nine miners could not testify before the Legislature to advocate for keeping strong mine safety standards in place. The West Virginia House of Delegates action today tarnished the legacy that those miners left behind. The West Virginia House of Delegates voted to strip away the mine safety regulations that could have saved those nine miners lives.
At a public hearing on this bill held by the House of Delegates, coal miner after coal miner asked the Legislature not to repeal these safety standards. The only supporters of this legislation were coal industry representatives. Not one of those coal industry representatives cited safety of coal miners as their reason for pushing this bill. They cited profits and making coal mines more competitive.
The “Creating Coal Jobs and Safety Act of 2015” will not create jobs. The “Creating Coal Jobs and Safety Act of 2015” will not make mines safer for our miners. The most important thing to come out of a coal mine is a coal miner. I’m disappointed that many of my colleagues in the House of Delegates do not place the same value on the lives of our coal miners as they place on the profits of the coal industry."
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