CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Joe Manchin on Wednesday promised swift and harsh action if investigators find that violations by Massey Energy caused the mine explosion that killed at least 25 workers and has raised new questions about the coal industry's safety practices.
"We'll be very, very stern to act if we find something that could have been done or should have been done," Manchin told reporters during an afternoon briefing.
The governor's response was in stark contrast to earlier in the week, when he dodged questions about Massey's safety record and evidence of growing safety problems at the Upper Big Branch Mine prior to Monday's explosion.
"I'm not comfortable any time there's an accident, no matter who it is," Manchin had said on Tuesday.
Badgered by reporters about Massey's history -- which includes the largest ever penalties for both mine safety and water pollution violations by a coal company -- Manchin conceded Wednesday there are "many questions" about how the Upper Big Branch mine was operated.
The governor also promised a quick review of whether additional laws and regulations are needed either on the federal or state level to address any findings from the Upper Big Branch disaster.
"Is there something we can do -- a state law or a federal law?" Manchin said. "I guarantee it will be done immediately if it can be.