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

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.

Scott Halleran | Getty Photographs

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 tens of millions of {dollars} in penalties for environmental violations.

Jay Justice, the governor’s son, and people corporations underneath 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 criticism.

“Our environmental legal guidelines serve to guard communities towards antagonistic results of commercial actions together with floor coal mining operations,” Assistant Lawyer Common Todd Kim of the DOJ’s Setting and Pure Assets Division stated in a press launch.

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

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 stated if he plans to run for reelection. His seat is seen as probably the most susceptible for Democrats who’re determined to maintain their slim Senate majority previous the 2024 cycle, once 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, they usually’re panicking,” Justice marketing campaign supervisor Roman Stauffer stated 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’ll 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 stated. “Democrats weaponizing the federal authorities to assault the household of a Republican Senate candidate is a whole abuse of energy.”

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

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

The DOJ’s 128-page criticism 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 simply 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 street after a rock fall and failing to “correctly eliminate non-coal waste,” amongst others, based on the criticism.

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 Avenue Journal reported in March that Jim Justice was trying to promote the coal companies.

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