The coal empire of Republican West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has now reportedly been sued by the Department of Justice on Wednesday on the grounds that it was in possession of millions in unpaid civil fines.
The governor’s adult son and 13 coal companies owned or run by the Justice family are the subjects of the case.
“[T]he total amount of the penalties and [Abandoned Mine Land] fees, plus interest, penalties and administrative expenses, owed by the defendants is approximately $7.6 million,” a statement from the DOJ read.
“From 2018 to 2022, OSMRE cited the defendants for over 130 violations and issued the companies over 50 cessation orders. The underlying violations pose health and safety risks or threaten environmental harm. In addition, defendants failed to pay required AML fees, which fund the reclamation of coal mining sites abandoned or left in an inadequate reclamation status. According to today’s filing, the total amount of the penalties and AML fees, plus interest, penalties and administrative expenses, owed by the defendants is approximately $7.6 million.” The statement continued.
The Republican governor is the front-runner to unseat Sen. Joe Manchin of the Democratic Party in 2024.
Justice said in April that he will be running for the United States Senate in 2024.
According to reports, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell preferred to persuade the governor to take on Manchin, a moderate Democrat.
According to a survey conducted by the East Carolina University Center for Survey Research, Justice is ahead of Manchin in the potential contest.
The survey, which was released on Tuesday, revealed that the governor had a 22-point advantage over the senator, with 54% of people favoring Justice, 32% backing Manchin, and 13% still undecided.