U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) issued the following statement today about his support for the Robert C. Byrd Mine and Workplace Safety and Health Act of 2012. Senator Manchin is one of the original cosponsors on the bill, which Senator Rockefeller reintroduced today.
"A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting once again with a few of the families of the fallen miners of Upper Big Branch who traveled to Washington. These families have endured so much, and have been told time and again that they just need to show a little more patience. Well, let me tell you that we're all tired of hearing simple rhetoric. We have been talking about these reforms for far too long. It's time for all of us to sit down together, to put our parties and our politics aside, and do the right thing for the safety of our miners. That's what these surviving family members have asked us to do, so that no other family ever has to endure what they have gone through," Senator Manchin said. "Whether it was as Governor or as Senator, I will always put our miners' safety first, and I am proud to support all legislation that leads to meaningful mine safety reform."
Senator Manchin will speak again about the need for safety improvements tomorrow, with the families of the lost miners and the entire mining community at a ceremony dedicating the Upper Big Branch Miner Memorial.
As Governor, Senator Manchin implemented and oversaw large-scale safety reforms to mining operations in West Virginia that served as the model for the first federal laws in 29 years to make improvements to mine safety.
In the wake of the Sago and Aracoma mine disasters, then-Governor Manchin wrote and signed into law S.B. 247.
Among the provisions of the bill:
Increasing the number of emergency rescue chambers in mines to more than 300 locations in more than 180 mines;
Placing more than 40,000 new personal breathing devices (self-contained self rescuers) in underground mines.
In the immediate aftermath of the Upper Big Branch disaster, before investigative reports were submitted, then-Governor Manchin also created the Mine and Industry Safety Hot/Tip Line to allow miners to anonymously report unsafe workplace conditions while protecting their job security.
Senator Manchin cosponsored the Robert C. Byrd Mine and Workplace Safety and Health Act of 2011 when he joined the U.S. Senate.