Just as we must continue to mine coal, we must make certain that our miners are safe. We have created a new rock dusting laboratory. We have increased the number and the salaries for our mine inspectors. We are re-checking our rescue chambers to make sure that they are safe. And, we have diligently worked to determine the causes of the Upper Big Branch disaster to make sure a disaster like that never happens again!
To build on this progress, I will submit legislation designed to improve mine safety. This legislation will enhance rock dusting standards, protect whistleblowers, mandate methane sensors at long walls, and increase pre-shift reviews. We will prohibit mines from announcing that an inspector is coming, and we will provide more training for self-rescuers. We will also begin a year-long study on the training of our inspectors, our foreman, and our miners. Coal mining is a dangerous profession, but we can make it safer. One death in our mines is one death too many.
Some of these recommendations were part of an independent study team appointed by then governor Joe Manchin in the wake of the Upper Big Branch disaster.
If Tomblin's legislation goes through--and governors' bills often do here--that might be the only bright spot in what looks right now to be a less than stellar legislative session.