Opposition to the Trump Administration’s nomination of David G. Zatezalo heated up earlier this week, as three of the Democratic members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee sent a letter to the Secretary of Labor requesting a slew of documents and information from MSHA.
On September 2nd, President Trump announced his nomination of David G. Zatezalo to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health. He has more than forty years of mining experience – all in coal – where he started as a union laborer in the mines and worked his way to the top, retiring in 2014 as the President and CEO of Rhino Resources, Inc.
The records request dates back to 2001 and concern Rhino Resources’ compliance record and comments and positions taken on MSHA rules by trade associations in which that Mr. Zatezalo was involved. For example, the letter requests all the information MSHA can provide about the 2010 and 2011 Potential Pattern of Violations notices that MSHA sent to the Eagle No. 1, a mine operated by Rhino Eastern LLC.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) apparently has all the information about Mr. Zatezalo that he wants and decided not to wait for the confirmation hearing to oppose the nominee. On Wednesday, he announced that “[a]fter reviewing his qualifications and record of safety during his time in the coal industry, I am not convinced that Mr. Zatezalo is suited to oversee the federal agency that implements and enforces mine safety laws and standards.”
For his part, Mr. Zatezalo has been open about his outlook, his formative experience as a working coal miner and his time in the industry. In an interview with The Intelligencer Wheeling News-Register earlier this month, he said the policies of the last Administration “were wrong . . . there were too many elitists in the government who really just had no connection to working America. … I still think of the world as being one that if you can provide opportunities for people, they’ll do well. If you don’t provide opportunities, they won’t.”
The HELP Committee scheduled a hearing on Zatezalo’s confirmation for Wednesday, October 4th at 3:00 pm (EDT).