The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


June 1, 2014

Bad timing

The federal indictments of former workers at Arch Coal over an alleged kickback scheme involving nearly $2 million from vendors could not have come at a worse time.

On Monday, The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release new emissions regulations that will no doubt continue to hammer the coal industry.

Friends and allies of coal don’t need to give industry critics any more ammunition to use against coal.

Four workers at Arch Coal’s Mountain Laurel complex in Logan County are accused of taking kickbacks from vendors to assure they got contracts with the company. Prosecutors say the mining complex’s former general manager was at the heart of the operation.

Some of those vendors paid more than $400,000 to get and keep those lucrative contracts.

“This kind of pay-to-play scheme hurts honest coal industry vendors who refuse to pay bribes as a way to get customers,” said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.

Indeed it does.

Arch Coal executives at headquarters in St. Louis contacted federal authorities to initiate the investigation, suspecting that something was very wrong at Mountain Laurel.

On Friday, they thanked prosecutors for their efforts.

“While it was extremely disappointing to find that former employees had failed to live up to our trust in them, we are pleased and relieved to have this issue behind us,” the company said in a statement.

The action Arch Coal executives took is commendable.

But where was the company’s oversight for the years — 2007 through 2012 — this was occurring? Certainly some sort of alarms should have gone off if the scope of the problem in West Virginia was as big as federal prosecutors suggest.

The investigation, Goodwin says, is continuing and more indictments are possible.

The damage to the coal industry, however, is apparent today.

The EPA’s new carbon emission limits are coming Monday. And although they are expected to allow states to tailor compliance through a menu of options, the end result will hardly be coal-friendly.

The coal industry will need all the friends it can get in the coming weeks and months.

The scandal at the Mountain Laurel complex isn’t going to help.

Text Only
  • VA breakthrough

    Compromise shows Congress can put partisanship aside for the proper cause

    July 30, 2014

  • Doughnut holes

    Annexation benefits outweigh the taxes

    July 29, 2014

  • The play’s the thing

    TWV twins reveal local riches that can’t be found anywhere else

    July 27, 2014

  • Primary care

    DHHR program weans folks away from the ER

    July 24, 2014

  • Rain? What Rain?

    Community still enjoys auto fair despite uncooperative weather

    July 23, 2014

  • Do tell

    It’s hard to keep a secret in today’s here-a-camera, there-a-camera, everywhere-a-camera world. Whatever one does that is embarrassing is immediately posted on YouTube, Facebook or other social media of choice.

    July 22, 2014

  • Juvenile justice

    West Virginia nearly doubled the rate it sent youths to juvenile facilities from 1997 to 2011, in contrast to declining rates of youthful incarceration elsewhere in the United States.

    July 20, 2014

  • Thumbs — Saturday, July 19, 2014

    July 19, 2014

  • Do something

     Johnstown police have charged three men in the brutal murder early Sunday of a city academy student.

    July 18, 2014

  • Showcase

    For White Sulphur Springs, there’s hardly enough time to catch a breath.

    July 17, 2014