"If you're saying we're doing drug testing or overseeing it at the mines in the state, we would definitely have to have staff, resources and training," White said.
Investigative reports released to date generally agree that the Upper Big Branch disaster was caused by Massey Energy's systematic failure to follow safety rules governing mine ventilation, roof control, and the cleanup of highly explosive coal dust.
Hamilton urged lawmakers not to take those conclusions, paint mine operators with a broad brush, and pass measures that would crack down too hard on an industry he said faces more scrutiny than any other.
"I would never attempt to defend what happened at UBB," Hamilton said. "But please, don't anyone think that is common place or happens elsewhere in the industry."
Hamilton said the coal association would like to see the director of the state mine safety office elevated to a gubernatorial cabinet-level position, as the Department of Environmental Protection secretary was several years ago.
The mine safety office currently reports to the governor through the Department of Commerce Secretary, but previously was an independent agency and before that was part of the old Department of Energy.
Hamilton also said his organization would like to see the state "redirect" its inspections to focus attention on mines with a recent history of poor safety performance.
Currently, state law requires all underground mines to be inspected by the state four times per year. Hamilton said he would not reduce that, but would cut back on the time inspectors spend at the mines with good safety performance.
"We have an opportunity to take our limited resources on the state level and dispatch those resources to the areas with the greatest need," Hamilton said.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.