Coal Tattoo

Industry pans Obama plan to end black lung

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Today is the first public hearing on the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration’s proposal to tighten the legal limit on coal dust as part of the Obama administration’s plan to end black lung disease.

Here’s the early report from the AP, whose Tim Huber attended the hearing held at the MSHA Academy outside Beckley:

The West Virginia Coal Association wants federal regulators to rewrite proposed regulations that would place stricter limits on coal dust exposure.

Lobbyist Chris Hamilton told a regulatory panel Tuesday the changes would cost far more than expected and are based on unproven science, among other things.

Others addressing the Mine Safety and Health Administration panel urged adoption of the changes as a step toward eradicating black lung disease, which is caused by inhaling dust.

The hearing at MSHA’s mine academy in Beaver is the first of seven planned across the country.

The proposal would cut by half existing limits for breathable dust in coal mines, among other things. The disease has plagued miners for generations and is blamed for more than 10,000 deaths in the past decade.

Recall that government agencies and advisory panels have been advocating a tighter dust standard for years, the MSHA proposal has the “full support” of the United Mine Workers union, and has been widely praised by worker health advocates and black lung experts.