Law and Politics, National

Trump Eyes Deadly Mine’s Owner for Cabinet

November 20, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel

Wilbur Ross

Washington, DC – Donald Trump ran for President pledging to help coal miners—but he is widely expected to appoint Wilbur Ross, owner of the West Virginia mine where 12 workers were killed in an explosion in 2006, as Secretary of Commerce.

Ross, a New York-based billionaire, was nicknamed the “King of Bankruptcy” for buying up failing steel mills, textile plants, and coal mines in the South, Midwest, and Appalachia. He made $267 million in the steel industry in the early 2000s while eliminating health-care benefits for more than 150,000 retired steelworkers, and his International Coal Group at one point controlled more than $1 billion in coal assets—including the Sago Mine near the small town of Tallmansville. The nonunion mine’s roof had collapsed 20 times in the year before the fatal methane explosion, and federal inspectors had cited it for more than 200 safety violations—including 16 that a former United Mine Workers safety director said were “normally issued to mine operators that thumb their nose at the law.” “Every mine in the country has violations,” Ross told ABC News a few days after the disaster. Read more

November 19, 2016

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