Biden Nominates Nlrb Board Counsel As Mine Safety Chief

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — President Joe Biden's pick to oversee U.S. mine safety is the second straight choice to lead the office from West Virginia.

Christopher Williamson was nominated by the president on Friday as assistant secretary for mine, safety and health at the Department of Labor.

A native of Dingess in Mingo County, Williamson currently is a senior counsel with the National Labor Relations Board. Williamson previously served on the leadership team at the Mine Safety and Health Administration under President Barack Obama.

He also worked as labor counsel in the U.S. Senate to then-Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa and as a legislative assistant to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

The White House said Williamson was Manchin's primary policy adviser on labor, mine safety and health, pensions and agriculture issues and also assisted him on energy and environmental policy.

“Chris Williamson is the most knowledgeable expert on mine safety and health in Washington today," the United Mine Workers union said in a statement. “His in-depth understanding of what it takes to keep miners safer and healthier at work is unmatched, and I expect that the Mine Safety and Health Administration will be a stronger advocate for miners under his watch.”

Williamson would replace David Zatezalo of Wheeling, who retired in 2014 as chairman of Rhino Resources and was Donald Trump's pick as MSHA chief in 2017.

Williamson's nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.