Rockefeller pushes White House for tougher mine safety rules

Asking that the Obama Administration do more to protect the health and well-being of coal miners, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., wrote an Aug. 6 letter to President Obama asking him to speed up issuing new rules designed to reduce Black Lung and protect coal miners.

“No miner should have to face the destructive effects of black lung. This heart wrenching disease has hurt too many miners, their families, and communities,” Rockefeller wrote. “We must act now before we lose more West Virginia coal miners to this disease. I therefore urge your Administration to work with all involved stakeholders, especially representatives of our nation’s mineworkers, to finalize a rule that protects miners from this terrible, crippling disease.”

Rockefeller’s letter highlights the need for the White House to issue regulations protecting miners from respirable dust, a key component of legislation Rockefeller introduced recently as part of his longstanding commitment to protect miners from the debilitating and deadly disease. Also in the letter, Rockefeller expressed frustration at the delay of rules to regulate proximity detectors in coal mines, thereby limiting the risk of miners’ being crushed by equipment underground.

“I urge you in the strongest possible terms to direct your Administration to move forward as expeditiously as possible on all of these issues, and to reaffirm your Administration’s commitment to protect the health and safety of our nation’s coal miners,” Rockefeller wrote.

Rockefeller’s efforts on Black Lung are third in a series of bills he has introduced this year on behalf of coal miners.

  • In March, Rockefeller introduced the Coalfield Accountability and Retired Employee (CARE) Act, which would protect benefits for thousands of retired miners whose livelihoods are in jeopardy as Patriot Coal tries to shed its pension and healthcare obligations in a Missouri bankruptcy court.
  • In April, Rockefeller re-introduced an updated version of his comprehensive mine safety legislation, the Robert C. Byrd Mine and Workplace Safety and Health Act, aimed at fixing safety problems revealed in the wake of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in southern West Virginia, which killed 29 miners.
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.