CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed a bill lauded by the struggling coal industry and called dangerous by the miners' union.
Tomblin signed the bill Thursday changing coal mine safety and environmental standards. It passed the Republican Legislature with some Democratic support.
Proponents said coal needs more help. Diminishing seams, competition from other states and natural gas, federal regulations and lousy markets are hurting Central Appalachian coal.
Opponents said it's wrong to reduce protections in a state defined by deadly mining accidents.
Environmentalists warned the legislation could weaken water protections.
Changes range from shielding coal companies from some citizen Clean Water Act lawsuits, to requiring less rail track laid in mines.
Tomblin said he included a resolution for state mine safety regulators to adopt rules about movement of underground equipment.
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