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WV House votes to expand Mine Safety Technology Tax Credit

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The West Virginia Legislature is taking even more steps to ensure the safety of coal miners while on the job.

The House of Delegates on April 2 passed a bill that would expand the state's Innovative Mine Safety Technology Tax Credit to include methane monitors. The bill was sponsored by Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, whose father died in a mining accident in the 1950s. 

"I want the state to do everything possible to ensure that the most accurate safety equipment is in our coal mines," Thompson said in a statement. "It is my hope that the expansion of this tax credit will encourage equipment manufacturers to produce the methane monitoring units our mining companies need in order to comply with our new, more rigid safety standards."

The bill amends the provisions of state code relating to the West Virginia Innovative Mine Safety Technology Tax Credit Act to add methane monitors required by the mine safety law that was passed last year.

That bill, House Bill 4351, also established drug testing requirements, revised the process for development of ventilation plans, established new requirements for methane monitoring and rock dusting and changed several safety-related miner training requirements. The legislation drew provisions from several reports following the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster.

The mine safety law also calls for shut-off devices on mining apparatus that cause the machine to shut off when methane reaches 1.24 percent. That provision may require more modern methane measuring units.

The tax credit expansion comes just three days before the third anniversary of the Upper Big Branch disaster, which killed 29 men.

"I am very proud of the new safety standards the Legislature put in place last year, but the effort to keep our miners safe is a continual one," Thompson said. "This bill is yet another step in the process."

The bill will now move to the Senate for it's consideration.