The Legislature has adopted Governor Manchin's latest efforts toward improving mine safety.
One of the centerpieces of the bill is a provision allowing regulators to take a mine's safety record into account when determining whether it should be temporarily closed.
Originally, the bill gave the state broad powers in making that
call. But it was later amended so that only a pattern of "significant and substantial" violations can lead to a mine being closed.
Among other provisions, it would also require a rigorous
application and review process for mines that want to rely on
so-called "belt air." Belt air is when a mine ventilates with the
same shaft that brings coal to the surface.
The measure follows other sweeping mine safety regulations
passed after the January 2006 Aracoma and Sago mine disasters.
Those accidents accounted for 14 of West Virginia's 24 coal
mine-related deaths last year. There have been two so far in 2007.