President Trump’s controversial choice to head up the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) was confirmed by the U.S. Senate today.
The 522-46 vote to approve David Zatezalo was split along party lines. At issue: Zatezalo was chairman and CEO of Rhino Resources at a time when the company earned two “pattern of violations” notices from MSHA due to its safety violations.
Zatezalo, of Wheeling, West Virginia, began his career in the mining industry as a miner employed by the Consolidation Coal Company – and a member of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). He obtained an undergraduate engineering degree from WVU and a graduate degree from Ohio University.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Zatezalo is not suited to head up the MSHA. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. said Zatezalo is "uniquely qualified" to run the agency.
UMWA President Cecil Roberts said the union wants to keep an open mind about Zatezalo.
“We’re trying to be fair here. I don’t want to say, “well he came out of industry and was a supervisor and we are going to be opposed to him,’” Roberts said.