The Justice Department is suing Republican Gov. Jim Justice to recover $5 million in unpaid fines from his 13 mining companies — while the pipeline backed by Democrat Joe Manchin looks set to fail in the debt deal
- The DOJ sued the Wester Virginia government and its corporations in federal court
- The lawsuit alleges 130 violations with a total civil penalty of $5 million
- The judiciary is trying to unseat Manchin in a much-anticipated Senate race
The Justice Department on Wednesday sued Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice with a complaint alleging his 13 mining companies “broke their legal obligations” by failing to pay penalties and fines.
The civil lawsuit comes as the judiciary launches a Senate campaign against West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, one of the most influential members of the chamber who was a key supporter of President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.
According to the 128-page filing, Justice’s mining companies “have failed to pay uncontested penalties for their uncontested violations” after being fined by the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement for more than 130 violations totaling $5 million civil penalties were cited Interior Ministry.
The DOJ filed the application in US District Court in the Western District of Virginia.
The DOJ is suing West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice for unpaid fines for mining companies he controls. Justice Running for Senate Against Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.)
The suit comes at a delicate time. Justice is 22 points ahead of Manchin, 54 percent to 32 percent, in a new poll for West Virginia’s Senate election, according to a poll by the East Carolina University Center for Survey Research released just Tuesday.
“Our environmental laws are designed to protect communities from the adverse impacts of industrial activities, including open pit coal mining operations,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the DOJ’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources said in a statement. “Through this lawsuit, the Department of Justice seeks to take responsibility for the defendants’ repeated violations of the law and to recover the penalties they owe as a result of those violations.”
Manchin was considered vulnerable simply because he was seeking re-election as a Democrat in a Republican-dominated state.
He is banking on his reputation as an independent politician, having sided with the Biden administration on major regulatory initiatives and engaged in protracted negotiations, but ultimately backing his Inflation Reduction Act.
Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) faces a challenge from Republican Gov. Jim Justice. The Justice Department is suing the judiciary and the companies it controls for fines totaling $5 million. A pipeline driven by Manchin is included in the budget agreement to be voted on in the House of Representatives on Wednesday
The DOJ filed the lawsuit in federal court in Virginia on Wednesday
The bipartisan budget agreement, which is due to be voted on in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, includes the approval of changes long pushed by Manchin. A determination That it would require approval for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would traverse part of his state, has infuriated environmentalists and some Democratic lawmakers, who have questioned why a budget compromise to cut spending and extend the debt ceiling came about.
The 13 justice companies are incorporated in Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware.
The lawsuit makes no mention of his political role and describes Justice as “a person residing in or about Roanoke, Virginia.”
Some of the judge’s fines detailed in the lawsuit relate to quarterly coal production figures.
The government led Premium Coal, National Coal and S+H Mining with more than 100 breaches between 2018 and 2022. These included “Failure to preserve the surface of a dam”, “Failure to ensure seismic stability of a dam” and “Slope instability is caused by improper placement of overburden against a hillside windrow and exposure of wood in the backfill soil.”