Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A New Deal for Miners

Six months after the Sago mine explosion, we have the first major mine safety legislation to be enacted since 1977. Widely covered, of course, for example in the New York Times:

Stiff Overhaul of Mine Safety Rules Passes Congress

WASHINGTON, June 7 — Responding to a spate of accidents that have killed 33 coal miners this year, the House gave final approval Wednesday to the most sweeping overhaul of mine safety regulations since the federal mine safety agency was created nearly three decades ago.

The measure, approved by a 381-to-37 vote, requires mine operators to provide a second hour's worth of air for miners along escape routes (they now carry one hour's worth). They will also have to provide communication and tracking devices for miners within three years. The maximum civil penalty for violations of mine-safety regulations will rise to $220,000, from $60,000.

Not everyone got all they wanted, but it's a step in the right direction.

I hear the bill is expected to be signed tomorrow. Details about the legislation, including full text, here.

Word was that the Senate would vote this afternoon on nominee Richard M. Stickler for assistant secetary of MSHA, Senator Byrd having removed his "hold" on the nomination. Haven't heard results yet. Speculation: deal was made with White House to allow quick passage of bill in exchange for allowing Stickler appointment to go ahead.


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