Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Federal appeals court upholds coal dust rule for miners; rule set to take effect Feb. 1

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld the government’s new coal dust exposure rule for coal miners, saying the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) "followed the relevant laws in writing the 2014 rule to limit coal dust exposure, which causes black lung disease," Timothy Cama reports for The Hill. (NPR graphic)

"In a pair of lawsuits, various coal industry representatives said that the regulation did not properly take into account the scientific body of evidence, which the industry said shows it would not result in nearly the health benefits the government claims," Cama writes. "Mining companies also said the MSHA did not properly consult with the Department of Health and Human Services in writing the rule, which the court rejected as well."

The Atlanta-based court wrote: “We conclude that MSHA’s decades-long effort, culminating in the publication of this rule, adequately took into account the scientific evidence of record and arrived at conclusions which, given MSHA’s expertise, are worthy of deference. We therefore deny the petitions for review.”

The standards, which are scheduled to go into effect Feb. 1, require miners "to wear continuous personal monitors to check their exposure to dust, and companies would have to do more frequent sampling to check for compliance with dust limits," Bill Estep reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Critics argued that MSHA overstepped its authority "and more frequent sampling is at odds with a separate rule on the use of rock dust."

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