Coal Tattoo

President Obama on coal-mine safety

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Well, it sounds like no one from the Obama administration took my suggestion and made a major announcement about their plans concerning fighting black lung disease during yesterday’s Coal Act anniversary celebration.

But the Labor Department did get a nice letter out of President Obama for the occasion. The President said, among other things:

In communities across America, the dangers of mining have been exposed through disasters and terrible losses of life. These tragedies were once all too common in our country, revealing the need for occupational safety measures to protect miners.

Since becoming law in 1969, the Coal Act has improved working conditions, reduced fatalities, and addressed pressing health concerns faced by miners such as black lung disease. Guarding the health and security of our workers preserves the long-term health of our citizens, our economy and our Nation.

Of course, the law also aimed to eliminate all black lung disease — something that is far from being achieved — and so far the Obama administration has declined to get back on track with its initial plan to tighten the legal limit for coal dust that causes this disease.

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In her remarks at yesterday’s event, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis again recalled her visit last year to Patriot Coal’s Federal No. 2 Mine. Without naming the mine this time, Solis said:

And in those 40 years, we’ve seen incredible changes in mine safety.
I was fortunate to witness many of those changes myself when I toured an underground coal mine in West Virginia last summer.
I was impressed by the equipment they use today, and by all the technological advances and safety and health improvements that have been put in place.

Secretary Solis  did not say anything about the broad investigation there of the falsification of important mine safety records by mine management…