CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS)– The US Justice Department filed a civil action against James C. “Jay” Justice III and 13 coal companies he owns to collect unpaid civil penalties.

According to the US Department of Justice, the penalties were assessed by the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement and the Abandoned Mine Land reclamation fee and audit debts.

“Over a five-year period, defendants engaged in over 130 violations of federal law, thereby posing health and safety risks to the public and the environment… “After given notice, they then failed to remedy those violations and were ordered over 50 times to cease mining activities until their violations were abated. Today, the filing of this complaint continues the process of holding defendants accountable for jeopardizing the health and safety of the public and our environment.”

 Christopher R. Kavanaugh, US Attorney for the Western District of Virginia

The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act issues a notice when there is a non-imminently dangerous violation, but if the permittee fails to fix the violation, the OSMRE steps in. The OSMRE will issue an order to halt the mining until the violation is resolved, but if the permittee still does not resolve the violation in 30 days of the halt order, the OSMRE will issue another order called the Imminent Harm Cessation Order, which also requires a halt in production. Due to these violations, the permittee is subject to civil penalties.

From 2018 to 2022, the OSMRE listed over 130 violations from Justice III, and issued his companies over 50 cessation orders. The violations pose health and safety risks and environmental harm. He also failed to pay the fees, which is about $7.6 million owed.

Jim Justice’s Campaign released the following statement regarding the lawsuit:

“Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and the Democrats have seen the polls that show Jim Justice winning this race, and they’re panicking. So now the Biden Justice Department has decided to play politics. We will see a lot more of this as the Democrats work to help Alex Mooney because they know they can easily beat him.”

Roman Stauffer, Campaign Manager, Jim Justice for U.S. Senate

For more information on the civil action, visit the Department of Justice website.