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DOJ sues son of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and his coal empire over hundreds of thousands in unpaid fines

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.

Scott Halleran | Getty Pictures

The Division of Justice on Wednesday accused the son of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and 13 coal corporations the youthful Justice owns or operates of failing to pay hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in penalties for environmental violations.

Jay Justice, the governor’s son, and people corporations beneath his management, have been cited for over 130 violations and owe greater than $5 million in civil penalties, amongst different unpaid charges, the DOJ alleged in a civil grievance.

“Our environmental legal guidelines serve to guard communities towards adversarial results of business actions together with floor coal mining operations,” Assistant Legal professional Normal Todd Kim of the DOJ’s Atmosphere and Pure Assets Division mentioned in a press launch.

“By way of this go well with, the Justice Division seeks to ship accountability for defendants’ repeated violations of the legislation and to get well the penalties they owe on account of these violations,” Kim mentioned.

The elder Justice, who’s reportedly the richest particular person in West Virginia, has been accused of meddling in his household enterprise empire as governor even after vowing to separate himself from the businesses upon taking workplace. These companies have additionally confronted accusations of not paying their payments.

The Republican governor final month launched his marketing campaign for the Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Justice’s marketing campaign insists the governor doesn’t run the household corporations.

Manchin, who may face an uphill battle to win one other time period within the deep-red state regardless of his incumbent standing, has not mentioned if he plans to run for reelection. His seat is seen as probably the most weak for Democrats who’re determined to maintain their slim Senate majority previous the 2024 cycle, after they face a frightening electoral map.

Republicans responded to the federal lawsuit by suggesting it was motivated by politics.

“Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and the Democrats have seen the polls that present Jim Justice successful this race, and so they’re panicking,” Justice marketing campaign supervisor Roman Stauffer mentioned in a press release. “So now the Biden Justice Division has determined to play politics.”

“We are going to see much more of this because the Democrats work to assist [Republican Senate primary challenger] Alex Mooney as a result of they know they will simply beat him,” Stauffer added.

The marketing campaign’s stance echoed accusations lobbed by the Nationwide Republican Senatorial Committee earlier Wednesday.

“Joe Biden’s Division of Justice has gone completely rogue,” NRSC spokesman Tate Mitchell mentioned. “Democrats weaponizing the federal authorities to assault the household of a Republican Senate candidate is an entire abuse of energy.”

However the DOJ maintained that its lawsuit was about accountability and addressing environmental dangers.

“At the moment, the submitting of this grievance continues the method of holding defendants accountable for jeopardizing the well being and security of the general public and the environment,” U.S. Legal professional Christopher R. Kavanaugh mentioned within the company’s press launch.

The DOJ’s 128-page grievance towards Jay Justice and his corporations covers violations stretching over 5 years, starting in 2018.

The lawsuit notes the Workplace of Floor Mining Reclamation and Enforcement issued greater than 100 violations and 50 cessation orders to only three of these corporations between 2018 and 2022. The allegations embody failing to keep up the face of a dam and guarantee its “seismic stability,” failing to clear rubble from a haul highway after a rock fall and failing to “correctly eliminate non-coal waste,” amongst others, in accordance with the grievance.

These violations “pose well being and security dangers or threaten environmental hurt,” the DOJ wrote.

A lawyer for the Justices’ companies didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The Wall Road Journal reported in March that Jim Justice was trying to promote the coal companies.

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