Attorneys for the federal government and Massey Energy are in Covington for a landmark hearing that could change the future of mine safety law enforcement.

NPR has more:

The hearing involves Massey’s Freedom Mine No. 1 in Pike County, Ky., and the Labor Department’s attempt to have a federal court essentially seize control of the mine, order safety fixes and supervise compliance.

This “injunctive relief” option in federal mine safety law has been on the books for 33 years, but was never used until November, when the Labor Department filed its case against Freedom. The agency’s action is part of the Obama administration’s purported get-tough response to the deadly explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia in April.