Mine Safety-Hot Topics
In the months since Upper Big Branch, Sen. Jay Rockefeller led renewed efforts in Congress to protect coal miners on many fronts.
- Pushed the Department of Labor to keep the Upper Big Branch families informed and to increase mine safety enforcement.
- Enacted a new law requiring publicly-traded mining companies to report safety information to their shareholders. The Wall Street Reform law includes language Rockefeller introduced to hold mining companies accountable for their safety records. Specifically, this new law requires publicly-traded mining companies to include serious mine safety violations in their public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Mining companies that fail to properly disclose this information will face SEC penalties.
comprehensive mine safety legislation. Last
year, Rockefeller introduced the Robert C. Byrd Mine and Workplace Safety and
Health Act. It was reintroduced again in Jan this year. It
- Strengthen whistleblower protections for miners that report safety concerns
- Increase Mine Safety and Health Administration (MHSA) oversight and accountability
- Give MSHA improved enforcement tools, and hold irresponsible operators accountable through an improved pattern of violations (POV) process that focuses on rehabilitating unsafe mines
- Reduce safety risks for miners associated with coal dust and make sure that miners communicate with one another about poor conditions
- Secured additional funds for mine safety. In August of last year, the Senate passed the Supplemental Appropriations Act and included $22 million that Rockefeller specifically requested for MSHA and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission to reduce the appeals backlog, enforce mine safety laws, investigate the Upper Big Branch Disaster, and upgrade emergency response equipment.
- Secured Administrative Changes to the Pattern of Violations (POV) process. Earlier this year, MSHA proposed new regulations to reform the POV process. That proposal incorporated many of the concepts in your mine safety bill – rehabilitating troubled mines, eliminating the 'potential POV' process so that mines can actually be placed onto pattern status, and eliminating outdated regulations that have allowed certain operators to delay accountability with excessive lawsuits.