President Trump says he will nominate the former CEO of a coal company with a history of safety violations to head up the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
The White House announced Friday that Trump’s pick for the nation’s top mine safety official is David G. Zatezalo, former head of Rhino Resources. Zatezalo retired from the company in 2014.
Rhino – under Zatezalo’s leadership – resisted efforts by then-MSHA chief Joseph Main to improve mine safety following the 2010 disaster at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine which claimed the lives of 29 miners. The company was issued “pattern of violations” by MSHA in 2010 and 2011 over safety issues at Rhino mines in Kentucky and West Virginia.
MSHA also sought and was granted a federal court injunction against Rhino in 2011 after the agency discovered that employees were warning workers at one Kentucky mine about inspections.
Zatezalo has a degree in mining engineering from West Virginia University and began his career in the industry as a laborer and union member before moving into management.
Twelve coal miners have died on the job nationwide so far in 2017.