Heasley, Wegman and Karmis heard presentations about a variety of topics, ranging from improved mine rescue efforts to black lung disease, from miner training to ventilation of underground mines.
Steve Sanders, a lawyer with the Appalachian Citizens Law Center in Kentucky, said he hopes the panel considers research into how to encourage miners to speak out about their safety concerns.
"One of the causes [of mining accidents] is the attitude that comes down that miners should not complain about unsafe conditions," Sanders said. "That is not a good attitude. Miners have to be the primary advocate for safety in the mines. They have to be encouraged by management to be that advocate."
While neither Goodwin nor Alpha will control how the research funding is distributed, Goodwin said he hopes there is a focus on preventing accidents over responding to them.
"I'm in the prosecution business, but I would prefer to prevent crimes from happening rather than coming in afterward and prosecuting them," Goodwin said.
Wegman said it's going to be important for the panel to figure out how to avoid duplicating ongoing research that is receiving other funding from the government or private industry.
"We had at first what seemed like a lot of money and now seems like very little," Wegman said after hearing presentations on research options. "I'm eager to find our way into an efficient system to identify the priorities."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.