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UMWA hail passage of MINER Act in House, calls for strong enforcement

June 7, 2006

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

"On behalf of every coal miner in America and their families, I salute the House of Representatives for the passage today of the MINER Act, which will add a new layer of protection for coal miners throughout the nation.

"I want to thank those in the House who worked so hard to get this legislation passed, especially the entire West Virginia House delegation: Reps. Nick Rahall (D), Shelly Moore Capito (R), and Alan Mollahan (D) and the other members of the House who supported this bill.

"I also want to thank the Senators from both sides of the aisle who worked so hard to get this legislation drafted and passed in that body, Senators Enzi (R-Wyo.), Kennedy (D-Mass.), Byrd (D-W.Va.), Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Specter (R-Pa.), Murray (D-Wash.), Isakson (R-Ga.) and Clinton (D-N.Y.).

"Finally, and most importantly, I would like to pay tribute to the families of those who were killed in the mines this year and in the 2001 explosion at Brookwood, Ala., that killed 13 coal miners," Roberts said. "Their determination and willingness to come to Washington, get in the faces of members of Congress and demand improvements in mine safety is the real reason this legislation was passed so quickly.

"Now that this legislation has passed, I urge the President to sign it without delay," Roberts said. "And once he does, it will be incumbent upon the Mine Safety and Health Administration to quickly promulgate the regulations it requires, and then vigorously enforce them as well as the laws and regulations already on the books.

"This legislation is a step toward making mines safer in America, but there is still much more to do," Roberts said. "Miners cannot afford for Congress to stand still in its efforts to continue to strengthen mine safety laws, nor can they afford for upper management at MSHA to continue its coddling of mine operators who violate the law."

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