Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) released the following statement today on a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report detailing the need to reduce miners' exposure to coal dust. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has been preparing guidelines that would cut the maximum permissible exposure level in mines in half. Coal dust is tied to black lung disease, which recently experienced a resurgence among coal miners.
"GAO has confirmed the validity of the data and we should now let the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) move forward to better protect the nation's coal miners against debilitating and fatal black lung disease caused by exposure to coal dust.
"Rather than putting special interests above the public health, we should allow MSHA to publish a final version of the rule in the near future, so that more effective protections against black lung disease can be put into effect. We should not tolerate a situation where the coal that fuels our power plants comes at a cost of disability and premature death for the people who mine it.
"Just last month House Republicans once again tried to stop any further work to develop and issue a new coal dust rule. I hope that the GAO report will help convince my Republican colleagues to abandon these efforts. Regardless, I will strongly oppose any attempts to prohibit or restrict finalizing and implementing new standards to reduce black lung disease among coal miners."
DeLauro is the senior Democrat on the subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Labor (DOL). She has spoken out against Republican efforts to block Department of Labor guidelines from going into effect, including in their most recent funding bill for the department.