The Department of Justice (DOJ), which has faced accusations of political bias and unprofessional behavior from multiple government leaders, announced its decision on Wednesday to pursue legal action against James C. Justice III, the son of Republican West Virginia Governor Jim Justice.
Governor Justice, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat in 2024, confirmed that the DOJ has filed a lawsuit against his son and the 13 coal companies he oversees.
According to West Virginia Metro News, the lawsuit targets Bluestone Resource, an umbrella company owned by James C. Justice III, who serves as its chief executive officer.
The lawsuit alleges that Bluestone Resources operated in violation of EPA-related regulations and has failed to pay millions of dollars in civil penalties.
The DOJ claims that since 2017, companies controlled by James Justice III have violated their legal obligations under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.
A statement released by the DOJ highlights that the Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement cited Justice III over 130 times between 2018 and 2022. Additionally, the DOJ issued 50 cessation orders to the companies involved.
Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division stated, “Our environmental laws are in place to safeguard communities from the adverse effects of industrial activities, including surface coal mining operations.”
Kim continued, “Through this lawsuit, the Justice Department aims to hold the defendants accountable for their repeated violations of the law and to recover the penalties they owe as a consequence of those violations.”
In response to the DOJ’s actions, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) criticized the department in a tweet:
“Joe Biden’s Department of Justice has gone totally rogue. Democrats weaponizing the federal government to attack the family of a Republican Senate candidate is a complete abuse of power.”
The lawsuit is pursuing $7.6 million in penalties and fines.
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In April, Governor Justice disclosed his intention to challenge Senator Joe Manchin (D) for a Senate seat in the forthcoming 2024 election. A recent poll conducted by East Carolina University indicates that the highly popular governor holds a significant 22-point advantage over Manchin.