Thursday, February 16, 2006

Diesel Daze

Cindy Skrzycki of the Washington Post had a piece Tuesday about MSHA's diesel emissions exposure rule for underground metal and nonmetal mines, which MSHA recently proposed to delay for another 5 years.

The coal mining sector accepted underground diesel emissions exposure limits without contesting them, several years ago.

The rules for non-coal mines were first proposed in 1998 and became final right at the end of the Clinton administration in January 2001. But industry complaints then led MSHA to delay the compliance schedule and reopen the rule. A key opponent has been the Mining Awareness Resource Group (MARG) Diesel Coalition, spearheaded by veteran mining industry attorney Chajet.

According to Skrzycki, Chajet has referred to the rule as a
"giant failed high school science project,"
despite extensive health and feasibility studies.

This month, former MSHA special assistant Celeste Monforton published a knock-down-drag-out narrative of the metal/nonmetal diesel rule's contorted course in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Public Health. (Abstract is here.)

"The posturing by MARG, some mining companies and MSHA goes on in air-conditioned offices while underground miners continue to breathe the highest level of diesel exhaust of any workers in the country,"
Monforton wrote.

Monforton, who holds a Master's degree in public health, now is with George Washington University's Environmental and Occupational Health department.

Skrzycki reported that Representatives Major R. Owens (D-N.Y.) and Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) have written to Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao asking her to cancel the latest proposed delay.

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