"I don't know that I would agree with every single aspect of it," he said. "I'm sure there are some key elements."
Whiting also said he worries about rushing to pass new laws and regulations in the wake of major mining disasters "when there are painfully fresh memories" of the deaths.
"The big picture may be lost in the immediate goals," Whiting said. New rules passed after the disasters in 2006 have put a "tremendous demand on resources," he said, and quick actions that aren't thought through can sometimes have "unintended consequences."
Although Patriot has both union and non-union mines, UMW officials frequently tout its safety record, and government officials and politicians have often praised the company's Federal No. 2 Mine in Monongalia County as a model of labor-management cooperation.
Roberts said that Whiting called him last year after word surfaced of a federal criminal investigation of allegations of faked safety examinations at Federal No. 2. Whiting promised to get to the bottom of the problem and fix it, Roberts said.
Since then, a former Federal No. 2 foreman has pleaded guilty to lying about conducting a safety examination at the mine. That foreman and two other Federal No. 2 officials resigned.
"We took swift action to make changes, and I feel like we've made the necessary changes," Whiting said. "There is just no place for what was alleged at that coal mine."
Roberts emphasized that the union and the company, "collectively said, 'This can't go on.' One or two people were putting everybody at risk."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.