Eight workers were killed and 1,124 workers were injured in coal mines between October 2015 and August 2016, according to MSHA. Twenty-one states recorded at least one incident. MHSA seeks to “increase miners’ awareness of recent accidents, encourage the application of safety training and raise hazard recognition,” said MSHA administrator Joseph A. Main.
Will mines become any safer in today’s climate of deregulation fever? Certainly the communities surrounding coal mining operations will not. In February, congressional Republicans voted to rescind a regulation aimed at preventing coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams. It was just one of the more than 90 federal regulations overturned in the first six weeks of the new administration.
“The stream protection rule is really just a thinly veiled attempt to wipe out coal mining jobs,” Rep. Paul Ryan said of the environmental regulation, and Rep. Bill Johnson called it “an effort to regulate the coal mining industry right out of business.”
Environmentalist groups that fought for years for the coal-mining rule and another rule to restrict energy companies from burning off natural gas during drilling operations on public lands, are especially concerned that the law also prevents the executive branch from imposing substantially similar regulations in the future. According to AP, during the debate in Congress, one Kentucky representative “displayed a bottle of brownish water he said came from a constituent’s well near a surface coal mine. He challenged lawmakers to drink from it and said the stream rule was one of the only safety measures protecting people in coal country.
Stay tuned for the lawsuits that are sure to follow.
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