Coal Tattoo

Byrd, Rockfeller seek coal safety disclosures

Following up on yesterday’s post, NY Times: Listen to the Miners, I wanted to point out that Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., have indeed re-introduced their coal company safety disclosure measure as a separate piece of legislation.

Originally, the language was proposed as part of amendments to the big financial regulatory overhaul, but those amendments never were brought up for a vote.

Earlier this morning, Sen. Rockefeller’s office issued a news release to highlight the separate bill, which is S. 3450. According to the release, the legislation is needed “to provide shareholders and investors with clear, up-to-date numerical data on a company’s mine safety record.”

Publicly traded coal companies would have to include the following in quarterly and annual reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:

(1) The total number of significant and substantial violations of mandatory health or safety standards;

(2) The total number of failure to abate orders issued under section 104(b) of the Mine Act;

(3) The total number of citations and orders for unwarrantable failure of the mine operator to comply with mandatory health or safety standards under section 104(d) of the Mine Act;

(4) The total number of flagrant violations under section 110 of the Mine Act;

(5) The total number of imminent danger orders issued under section 107(a) of the Mine Act;

(6) The total dollar value of Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) proposed penalties and fines;

(7) A list of the regulated worksites that have been notified by MSHA of a Pattern of Violation or a Potential to have a Pattern of Violations under section 104(e) of the Mine Act;

(8) Pending legal action before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission; and

(9) Any mining related fatalities during the reporting period.

Immediate notification to the SEC and shareholders would also be required whenever a company:

1) Receives a shutdown order under section 107(a) of the Mine Act (imminent danger), or

(2) Receives notice that a mine site has a potential or actual pattern of violations.

Sen. Rockefeller said:

We need to bring more needed transparency and accountability to the mining industry’s safety records. Safety has as much of an impact on a company’s long-term financial health as its mining production. This legislation provides shareholders with standard information that can be used to measure and compare safety records across the industry. If we are serious about making the culture of safety a reality, then shareholders need to be informed too.

And Sen. Byrd said:

I am proud to join my West Virginia colleague, Senator Rockefeller, in cosponsoring this legislation. Investors ought to know if a company is risking the lives of its workforce, in order to maximize profits for shareholders. When rogue operators try to obfuscate their strategy of putting profits above safety, the penalties must be stern and swift.