CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against James “Jay” Justice III, Gov. Jim Justice’s (R-WV) son, and 13 coal companies owned by him.
According to the complaint, Justice and the companies owe around $7.6 million in fines for more than 130 violations and over 50 cessation orders due to “health and safety risks” and possible “environmental harm.”
The civil penalties were assessed by the Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. The suit is also looking to collect Abandoned Mine Land reclamation fee and audit debts, according to the DOJ.
During Gov. Jim Justice’s press briefing on Wednesday, the Governor said he does not have “real knowledge of the details” of the suit but expects to be briefed by his son, Jay. Gov. Justice went on to say, “I’ve announced – as a Republican – that I am running for the U.S. Senate and the Biden Administration is aware of the fact that, with a win for the U.S. Senate and everything, we could very well flip the Senate. You know, government agencies sometimes can surely react and this could be something in regard to that.” Gov. Justice said the companies, “will always fill obligations.”
The suit is against A & G Coal Corp., Bluestone Coal Corp., Bluestone Oil Corp., Chestnut Land Holdings, LLC, Dynamic Energy, Inc., Frontier Coal Co., Justice Energy Co., Kentucky Fuel Corp., National Coal, LLC, Pay Car Mining, Inc., Premium Coal Company, Inc., S and H Mining, Inc., Tams Management, Inc., and James C. Justice III.
According to the Associated Press, Gov. Jim Justice pledged to put his adult children in charge of the family businesses when he became Governor of West Virginia in 2017.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.