Coal Tattoo

Manchin administration hasn’t tested mine dust

In case you missed it, we have a story in today’s Gazette that reveals that the Manchin administration hasn’t exactly done everything the governor promised in the wake of Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster.

Among other things, Gov. Joe Manchin has yet to come up with any concrete legislative proposals for adding to the mine rescue reforms he pushed after the Sago and Aracoma disasters and improving accident prevention in our state.  A set of possible legislative changes, provided to the governor many weeks ago, hasn’t been submitted to lawmakers.

But most specifically, today’s story focuses on the state’s failure to do any rock-dust testing as part of the inspection sweep the governor ordered just a week after the Upper Big Branch explosion — despite a specific mandate in his executive order that such dust sampling be done.

Since Sago and Aracoma, Gov. Manchin has made much of how West Virginia moved more quickly than the federal government to institute safety changes in the mining industry.  And now, of course, the governor is running for U.S. Senate and continues to campaign in part on his opposition to the Obama administration’s coal policies.

In this instance, Gov. Manchin made much of how he was moving before the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration did to toughen “rock-dust” standards meant to help prevent major explosions underground, saying in an interview with me:

I’m going to do everything I can in this state. I can’t wait until the feds start moving.

But it turns out West Virginia inspectors didn’t do the sampling that the governor ordered them to do — and even if they had, the state still hasn’t gotten a lab up and running to analyze those samples.