Member's Press Release

Release Date: 02/10/2015
Contact: Senate President Bill Cole at (304) 357-7801

President Cole , Senator D. Hall , Senator Kirkendoll

West Virginia Senate Passes Coal Jobs and Safety Act of 2015

CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Senate passed with bipartisan support today SB 357, the Coal Jobs and Safety Act of 2015.

The Coal Jobs and Safety Act is designed to streamline and modernize state mining laws and state regulatory oversight.

Among some of its provisions, it will:

  • Eliminate the State Diesel Commission and place those functions under the West Virginia Office of Miners Health, Safety and Training.

  • Update outdated regulations to reflect modern advances in technology, training, equipment, and coal mining methods.

  • Provide for uniform drug-testing standards across all mines, regardless of whether the mine is covered by a collective bargaining agreement

  • Adopt federal standards for on-shift examinations

  • Revise track maintenance standards to bring them in line with federal regulations

    “I support Senate Bill 357 because I believe it gives the industry an opportunity to compete, and to create additional jobs and financially be able to enhance the industry,” Senator Art Kirkendoll, D-Logan, said. “I think the contents of the bill are designed to keep safety at a superb level, and that’s one of my main objectives as a legislator.”

    Kirkendoll said while West Virginia coal is challenged more than ever before because of market conditions and some of the other cost factors, the global demand for fossil fuel energy, specifically coal, is on an increase.

    “With a skilled workforce, we have to be in position to allow them to have a functional, qualified, financially supportive job for them and their families,” Senator Kirkendoll said.

    Senate Majority Whip Daniel Hall, R-Wyoming, who represents coal mining counties in Southern West Virginia, also spoke in support of the bill.

    “I take the safety and welfare of all coal miners seriously, and I believe this Act protects their safety,” Senator Hall said. “We have heard for quite some time that our cost to produce a ton of coal is higher than our competitors, and some of these measures should make us more competitive without sacrificing important safety measures.”

    The bill passed 26-8. A House of Delegates version of the bill, HB 2566, also has been introduced.

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