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Statement of United Mine Workers Cecil Roberts on MSHA's Emergency Temporary Standards for Underground Coal Mines Issued Today

March 7, 2006

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

"We welcome MSHA's action to issue these emergency temporary standards. Many of the things they are putting into effect are things we've been saying are needed for years and could have saved many lives, including at Sago and Aracoma. That said, we believe there are some areas of these standards that can use some improvement, and we will address those things in the comment period. This should just be the starting point for these proposals and we hope to see improvements in them after the comment period.

"This is another step forward for miner safety, but there is much more to do. MSHA still has not addressed the immediate implementation of underground communications improvements or location tracking devices. It has still not rescinded its rule allowing belt air ventilation. It has still not issued rules mandating mine rescue teams at each mine in America, as required by the Act.

"It's especially galling for the agency to continue its foot-dragging with respect to implementing underground communications until the technology is "˜perfected."™ This just parrots what the coal companies are saying and could cost miners' lives. Something that works 75 or even 50 percent of the time is 75 or 50 percent more effective than what miners have now, which is nothing. That technology is out there, and must be mandated for use in the mines now while we work to develop and implement technology that works 100 percent of the time."

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