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West Virginia Republicans want to gut mine safety rules as Trump looks to loosen federal standards

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A bill under consideration by the West Virginia Senate would eliminate mine safety enforcement as the White House considers weakening federal health and safety standards.

The Republican-backed legislation would strip regulators of their authority to write health and safety regulations, and mine operators wouldn’t be fined for violating those standards, reported the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

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Inspectors would not be authorized to issue notices of violation unless they could prove “imminent danger” of deaths or serious harm, and they would be encouraged to target specific mine employees rather than mine operators or coal companies if such violations were found.

Mine safety experts are shocked by how broadly Senate Bill 582, which is backed by the mining industry, eliminates most enforcement of laws and rules put in place over many years in response to hundreds of coal miners’ deaths.

Mine operators would instead be required to follow U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration regulations — which President Donald Trump has promised to weaken at the request of the coal industry.

“It completely guts the state law,” said Josh Roberts, international health and safety director for the United Mine Workers union. “You’re taking back decades of laws.”

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The Senate bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Randy Smith (R-Tucker), chairs the Energy, Industry and Mining Committee and works as a safety manager for Mettiki Coal, whose parent company, Alliance Resource Partners, donated heavily to his election campaign.

“If I could do it, I would conform with state laws and do away with federal laws,” Smith told the newspaper, “but that’s not going to happen. I would 10 times rather have the state agency telling us what to do instead of the federal.”

The bill would rewrite the state’s environmental regulations — including strip mine cleanup and waterway classifications — and consolidate mine safety boards into one panel.

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Lawmakers might also add a controversial amendment rewriting water quality standards, a legislative committee lawyer told the newspaper.

“It’s breathtaking in its scope,” said Davitt McAteer, who ran the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration during the Clinton administration.

“It is shocking that, after all these years and the numbers of West Virginians who have died in the mines, for the state to even consider this,” McAteer added. “The state needs to be involved in making sure we are protecting our citizens. This should be one of the primary goals of the state government.”

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West Virginia led the nation in coal mining deaths last year, with four, and two miners have already died this year.


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Republicans’ laughable effort to attack Adam Schiff lands with a thud

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Republicans' effort to castigate California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee spearheading the impeachment inquiry, met a quick and sudden defeat on Monday in a vote of 218-185.

Spurred on by President Donald Trump's attacks on the chairman, GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy led an effort to censure Schiff on the House floor. On what grounds? It's almost too absurd to make up: lying.

The party of Donald Trump — who lied more times in the hours before the censure vote than Schiff even stands accused of — actually claimed that it's the California lawmaker who should be called out for dishonesty.

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Lindsey Graham leaves open the possibility of voting to impeach President Donald Trump

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left open the possibility that he would vote to impeach President Donald Trump if he saw evidence that the commander-in-chief had engaged in a quid pro quo during an interview with "Axios on HBO" broadcast Sunday night.

After telling Axios’ Jonathan Swan that he would need to see evidence of an actual “crime,” Graham added that “if you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing."

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Connecticut town’s KKK history recalled ahead of controversial upcoming GOP event

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The town of Shelton, Connecticut was brutally whacked for its history of racism ahead of a Connecticut Republican Party event.

"Fun fact. In the 1980s, the Imperial Wizard (the national leader) of the Ku Klux Klan lived in Connecticut," columnist Colin McEnroe noted in The Middletown Press.

The host of WNPR's "The Colin McEnroe Show" explained how James Farrands ran the KKK out of his garage in Shelton.

"This may be an unfair memory to bring up, right when Shelton is having another bad run. In recent weeks, the school system there had to deal with a Snapchat pic of a student in blackface lifting both middle fingers and using a common distasteful racial epithet," McEnroe explained.

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