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Congressional reauthorization of AML program

December 12, 2006

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

"The reauthorization of the Abandoned Mine Lands program, included funding mechanisms to continue to provide health care to retired coal miners and their widows, means that Congress has once again stepped up and honored our nation's promise to coal miners.

"That promise, first made nearly 60 years ago by President Truman and renewed in 1992 with the passage of the Coal Act, is simple: Those who put their health, their limbs and their very lives at risk every day to provide the foundation of our nation's industrial might and to fuel America's electrical generation have earned health care-guaranteed by the United States government-in their retirement years, and so have their spouses.

"Congress has once again reaffirmed that promise. It's good to know that, even in this day and age, a majority of our lawmakers still understand what a promise means. On behalf of active and retired UMWA coal miners in every state of the union, I thank the members of Congress who supported this bipartisan legislation.

"I want to especially thank those who worked so very hard to shepherd this legislation through: Senators Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.); and Representatives Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), Barbara Cubin (R-Wyo.) and John Peterson (R-Pa.).

"The legislation fixes problems with funding for the UMWA Combined Benefit Fund and the 1992 Benefit Plan, and for the first time will include some 8,000 beneficiaries in the UMWA 1993 Benefit Plan. In all, the health care benefits for over 52,000 retired miners, their spouses and their widows aresecure, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

"These beneficiaries are miners who worked for companies that are no longer in business. Those UMWA retirees who worked for existing companies like Consol Energy and Peabody Energy receive their health care benefits from hose companies, and are not part of this legislation."

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