West Virginia Governor Jim Justice faces justice for coal crimes in Kentucky

By Adam Mahoney, Grist

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice used coal to propel himself into public office in the coal-friendly state, but a few hundred miles away his association with coal is not so positive. Earlier this month in Kentucky, the billionaire politician and his son-turned-business partner were personally fined $2.9 million by the state for failing to reclaim three of their Eastern Kentucky mines, a process that makes them environmentally safe for redevelopment.

The proprietor of the Greenbrier Resort owns more than 50 coal mines and businesses and has faced fines before — along with community opposition —  for failing to pay taxes and suppliers, inadequately implementing mine safety requirements, and ignoring court-ordered environmental remediation work.

Jim Justice sits in front of a stack of coal

He joins other high-ranking elected officials, such as Senator Joe Manchin and Congressman Michael McCaul, who are in the business of passing climate legislation while having interests in the fossil fuel industry. Justice’s attorneys claim the missed deadline that prompted the most recent fine is not his fault;  the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible to safely get the reclamation work in time.

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