MINE IMPROVEMENT AND NEW EMERGENCY RESPONSE ACT OF 2006
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MR. HOLDEN. I thank the chairman and the ranking member for yielding me the time.
I rise in support of this bill, but I agree with the ranking member that this bill is not perfect. One of the ways that this bill could have been improved is if we would have addressed the way MSHA deals with anthracite coal mining versus bituminous coal mining, two very different forms of coal, hard coal versus soft coal, irregular veins versus consistent veins. They are mined differently and they should be regulated differently.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognizes that. They have two separate laws. They have two separate divisions that deal with regulation and enforcement of the safety laws. In northeastern Pennsylvania and the anthracite fields that I represent, along with Mr. Kanjorski and Mr. Sherwood, there is a division in western Pennsylvania in the bituminous field; there is another one with two separate laws. MSHA has consistently said that one-size-fits-all is what they will do in regulation.
Mr. Speaker, that does not work. The Inspector General from the Department of Labor issued a report on March 31 of this year that I would like to read in the Record: ``MSHA has not fully addressed the possibility that current regulations do not adequately reflect operating methods and conditions unique to anthracite coal mining. We recommend,'' meaning the Inspector General, ``that MSHA evaluate whether the existing petitions for the modification process efficiently address the applicability of existing regulations to varying mining techniques or whether any existing regulations require revisions for anthracite mining methods.''
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this legislation today, but I ask the chairman and ranking member to work with me as we try to convince MSHA that there is an Inspector General's report, there is a precedent in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania realizing the difference in anthracite mining and bituminous mining. And we can protect our miners and we can do it in a fair way.
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