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Several lawmakers visit underground mine in Tucker County

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A group of eight lawmakers recently toured Mettiki Coal Mine near Davis in Tucker County. The trip was aimed at Eastern Panhandle lawmakers who don't have coal mines in their area.

"Traveling three miles underground to see firsthand the difficult work of coal mining was a great learning experience," said Delegate Daryl Cowls, R-Morgan. "The coal industry is absolutely critical to our state's economy. I appreciate the miners and officials at Mettiki Coal for taking their time to discuss their issues."

The visit to the underground mine was set up and hosted by Delegate Randy Smith, R-Preston, who has been a miner for 35 years and was elected to the Legislature in 2012.

"Having an opportunity to view Mettiki Coal's longwall mining operations up close provided a clear understanding of the tremendous resource that coal represents for West Virginia, our country and the world," said Delegate Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson. "Seeing our hard-working West Virginia miners in action only served to reinforce our commitment to doing all that we can to protect these vital jobs that are so important to our state's economy."

The visit included going underground about three miles, seeing longwall operations and other mining and equipment operations as well as learning about the mine's environmental concerns and focus on safety. The lawmakers spent about three hours underground.

"Coal is a critical part of West Virginia's jobs and revenue picture, funding much of our education system, social services and state employees," said Delegate John Overington, R-Berkeley. "Washington's war on coal is undermining this critical part of our state economy as well as an important part of our state's and nation's energy infrastructure."