Wheeling Resident David Zatezalo Confirmed to Lead MSHA

WHEELING – In a strict party-line vote, the U.S. Senate this afternoon confirmed Wheeling resident David Zatezalo to lead the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The vote to confirm Zatezalo was 52-46, with all “yes” votes coming from Republicans.

Two senators, both Democrats, did not vote. The Senate’s two Independent members, both of whom caucus with the Democrats, voted against Zatezalo.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said she was satisfied by Zatezalo’s testimony during confirmation hearings that he will “rigorously” enforce the nation’s mine safety laws.

However, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he remains concerned about the safety record of mines under Zatezalo’s leadership during his time as a coal-industry executive, and could not vote to support him.

President Donald Trump nominated Zatezalo on Sept. 7 to be Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health.

Zatezalo, who is the cousin of West Virginia Delegate Mark Zatezalo, R-Hancock, grew up in Weirton and after high school he entered the coal mines as a union laborer. He earned a mining engineering degree from West Virginia University in 1977, and later earned an MBA from Ohio University in Athens.

He later became a mine foreman and subsequently general superintendent for Southern Ohio Coal Co. He then went to Australia, where he worked for Broken Hill Proprietary as a general mine manager. In 1998 he returned to the United States, taking the post of general manager of the former Windsor Coal Co. in Beech Bottom during the operation’s phase-down stage.

After Windsor Coal closed, Zatezalo served as vice president of operations of American Electric Power’s Appalachian mining operations in eastern Kentucky. He then took a position as president of Hopedale Mining to develop a new mine near Cadiz, Ohio, before returning to Kentucky to head the Lexington-based Rhino Resources until his retirement in 2014.