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Energy nominee linked to violations

PIKEVILLE, Ky. – President Bush’s pick for a top Energy Department post is a former executive for a coal company that has a long history of mine safety and environmental violations.

If confirmed as assistant secretary for fossil energy, Stanley C. Suboleski would oversee development of clean-coal technology and other fossil-fuel projects.

Suboleski is a former executive for Massey Energy, one of the nation’s largest coal producers, which faces an estimated $2.4 billion in threatened federal fines for more than 4,000 alleged environmental violations in the past six years at its West Virginia and Kentucky coal operations.

Suboleski was the company’s chief operating officer from 2001 to 2003 and continues to work as an independent contractor for the company.

“An ideal person is someone who can look at both sides of the issues and suggest ways that we might move forward with fossil fuels and still decrease harm to the environment,” said J. Davitt McAteer, former director of the Mine Safety and Health Administration. “I’m not sure that job criteria and Mr. Suboleski’s background are a good match.”

The White House, which made the nomination last week, defended its decision, citing Suboleski’s expertise in coal.

“He has decades of experience in the energy sector, serving in a number of private and public roles,” White House spokesman Blair Jones said.

Suboleski did not return phone or e-mail messages. Two Massey spokesmen also did not respond to requests for comment.