The Mine Safety & Technical Review Committee
The Coal Forum is a working board under the auspices of the Mine Safety & Technical Review Committee (TRC). The TRC was created by the West Virginia Legislature in 1986 with the passage of HB 2183. The committee is comprised of two chairmen: one is recommended by, and represents, the UMWA, and one is appointed to represent coal operators. Currently those two representatives are Fred Tucker, a retired UMWA official, and Chris Hamilton, Vice-President of the West Virginia Coal Association.
General responsibilities of the TRC include:
- Review and development of a variety of mine safety programs to improve mine safety within the state.
- Review of requests purporting to modify the application of mandatory mine safety standards.
- Granting safety modification requests, after thorough review and conclusion that the request will not diminish mine safety.
- Recommendation of proposed rules and regulations to the State Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety.
The West Virginia Coal Forum
The West Virginia Coal Forum was created in 1986 under the auspices of the Mine Safety & Technical Review Committee and at the direction of the West Virginia Legislative Committee on Coal Mining. This body was created to establish a forum for the coal industry to jointly resolve or develop technical and other issues impacting the industry, particularly those issues of an economic nature, or of major significance to the coal industry. The Forum also provides a means for management and labor leaders to develop joint legislative issues and programs and to promote the coal industry.
The Forum is comprised of legislative leaders, UMW district and local officials, mine operating personnel and other management representatives. The Forum is given direction and substance from a planning steering committee which meets quarterly. Northern and southern sub-groups were formed to work on regional or local issues of importance to both labor and management.
Examples of activities which the Coal Forum has been engaged in are as follows:
- Sponsored educational briefings for legislators, industry and government officials on the significance of longwall mining (1987), and the impacts of the Clean Air Act of 1991, on the state, and the state's mining industry.
- Intervened in a legal proceeding before the State's Public Service Commission to combat the natural gas industry in their attempts to displace the use of coal at the Harrison Power Station.
- Instituted a coal promotion program to foster a better understanding among West Virginians of the role coal plays in the state.
- Created a mine safety educational campaign with the assistance of Governor Underwood, West Virginia University Football Coach Don Nehlen and Marshall University Football Coach Bob Pruett.
- Sponsored two statewide initiatives dealing with global climate change and the Kyoto Protocol to raise awareness of how this international treaty would affect the coal industry and West Virginia.
- Helped in the formation and passage of various coal-related legislation.
- Participated in a series of rallies to stress the significance of the shut down of the Dal -Tex mine in Logan County.