West Virginia Governor Asks Coal Mines to Stop Production

West Virginia’s governor called for a halt to coal mining after two more miners were killed in separate accidents today.

Two mine workers were killed in separate accidents in West Virginia on Wednesday, prompting Gov. Joe Manchin to call on all coal companies to cease production until safety checks can be conducted. “We’re going to check for unsafe conditions, and we’re going to correct any unsafe conditions before we mine another lump of coal,” Manchin said.

A miner was killed at an underground mine when a wall support popped loose, said Caryn Gresham, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training. The second fatality occurred at a surface mine when a bulldozer struck a gas line, sparking a fire and killing the operator, said Dirk Filpott, a spokesman for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The deaths brought to 16 the number of mining-related fatalities in West Virginia since January 2.

The problem is that, unless they can find something out quickly, a lot of families will be without paychecks and be plunged into financial ruin.

In an industry as inherently dangerous as coal mining, the companies have a special responsibility to take every reasonable step to ensure their workers’ safety. There is no evidence of which I’m aware, though, that they have not done so. My instinct is that these tragic accidents are just a clustering of normal events in an abnormally short time span.

Update: According to Fox News (TV) this is an order, not a request.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Herb says:

    It’s about time someone done something about those “Dog Holes” in W. Va.

    I ask why Canada can save 60 plus miners after an explosion and W.Va. coal companies can’t save a dozen plus.

  2. Wayne says:

    Like energy prices arenÂ’t high enough.

  3. Ralph Perna Sr. says:

    What coverage do the families of coal miners have in the unfortunate death of a coal miner & amen to the Governor,after all these years of coal mining I should think they the companys library full of safety codes.

  4. Don Surber says:

    My understanding is a stand down means they go to work and get paid.

    We also have a workers’ comp system. Happens to be the most expensive in the nation in cost per worker covered

    Worried that your electric bill is going up, are you, Wayne? Gee I feel so sorry for you. Guess you are gonna have to cut back on the time you spend posting ridiculously callous and self-centered remarks on topics you seem to know very little about. Less blogging=lower electric bill.

  5. James Joyner says:

    Don: Maybe so but I can’t imagine that they are going to be paid by the company for doing nothing. Maybe they’d get Workers’ Comp somehow, although they’re not actually disabled. Unemployment or union funds is more likely.

  6. bryan says:

    There is no evidence of which I’m aware, though, that they have not done so.

    That doesn’t mean there’s no evidence. Just that there’s not any that you’re aware of.