In the aftermath of the worst coal-mining disaster in 40 years lawmakers across the country are raising questions about mine safety. In Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell responded to the tragedy in West Virginia by announcing that he will propose an amendment to the biennial budget recently passed by the General Assembly to increase funding for the safety component of the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. These additional funds will be used to increase energy industry safety, including mine safety inspections and technical services to improve worker safety in the energy industries, particularly coal mining.
Speaking about his amendment to restore funding for the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, “The coal mine explosion in Montcoal, West Virginia, one week ago today is a tragic reminder that it is absolutely critical we do everything possible to ensure the safety of the men and women who work in Virginia’s energy industries. Coal mining is an important industry in Virginia, employing almost 5,000 of our citizens, and it is the lifeblood of many of our towns and communities. This additional funding will provide equipment to support mine safety inspections and fill critically important mine safety inspector and specialist positions – including special safety services to small mines inspections across the coalfields. This area has been of concern to me since we received the General Assembly’s budget and recent events highlight the importance of taking the necessary steps to ensure our mines are safe for the Virginians who work in them every day.”
The money to increase funding for the DMME safety component will be derived through budgetary amendments and actions the Governor will formally propose this week. The Governor has until midnight tomorrow to send down his amendments and vetoes on all budget matters and legislation prior to the reconvened session of the General Assembly on April 21st.