Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., recently reintroduced mine safety legislation with new provisions aimed at problems at UBB.
"It's because of the memory of that day [April 5] that we should firmly resolve to better protect our coal miners and to pass new laws to keep them safer when they grab their hardhats and head underground," he said. "We must also hold accountable those on every level who failed in keeping the UBB miners safe. We must never allow inaction to put miners at risk."
Sen. Joe Manchin, also D-W.Va., encouraged West Virginians to continue to stand behind coal amid ongoing political debates surrounding the issue.
"It can't be a Democratic or Republican fix. I don't want any of you ever to give an excuse for what you do or where you come from. We built this country," he said. "We're in a very toxic political atmosphere, but that will pass.
"We have a hard time right now in Washington -- you can't live with us and you can't live without us -- but I tell you right now, you'll live a lot better with us than you will without us."
The memorial was developed by the Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group Inc. and was made possible through donations from more than 100 corporate partners, including Alpha Natural Resources, which bought UBB owner Massey Energy Co. in 2011.
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Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.