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UMWA hails introduction of comprehensive mine safety legislation

date: 
June 19, 2007

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:
 
"I said at the time of the passage of the MINER Act last year that it was a good first step, but that there was much more to do legislatively to give miners the safety and health protections they need. The legislation introduced this morning in Congress by Representatives George Miller (D-Calif.) and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), and which Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) will likely introduce later today, is much more than just another step in the right direction–it answers most if not all of the safety and health needs of miners.
 
"This legislation is especially important because it will help prevent dangerous situations from happening in the first place. For example, had the requirements in this legislation on seals, on belt flammability and on banning the use of ventilating mines with belt air been in place prior to 2006, the tragic deaths at Sago and Aracoma very likely could have been prevented.
 
"The enhanced enforcement authority the new legislation provides the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will also be critical to ensuring the safety and health of miners – but, as always, only if the agency embraces that new authority and actually uses it. Irresponsible coal operators need to know that MSHA is serious about enforcing all the laws on the books and also enforcing the penalties for noncompliance.
 
"The UMWA is very supportive of the new respirable dust standards included in this legislation. We have worked long and hard to reduce the incidence of black lung in coal miners, yet have been consistently frustrated by government inaction at nearly every turn. This is a preventable disease that has not gone away, and we believe this legislation will mean a giant step forward for all coal miners.
 
"The UMWA strongly supports this legislation in all respects, and commends Rep. Miller and Rep. Rahall for introducing it. Their continuing commitment to improving mine health and safety is greatly appreciated by coal miners and their families across America. I urge every member of Congress and Senator to get on board with this critical legislation, and to move it to the President's desk as soon as possible."

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