A colleague says Palmer wanted the position because he's a Pennsylvania native with family members who were miners. But Palmer has no direct experience with mining, and that worries United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts. The position of assistant secretary "needs to be filled by someone who is an expert in the field, so that miners can have confidence that their government is putting the best people in positions to watch out for them on the job. I am not sure this appointment meets that test," Roberts said in a statement. "What does he know about the need for ventilation, roof control, rock dusting, and a hundred other things that the person in charge of keeping our miners safe and secure needs to know?"
The mining industry, eager to work with a more coal-friendly administration, seemed optimistic about Palmer's appointment. "We've not worked with Palmer, but have worked with the Senate offices that have employed him and have enjoyed constructive relations with them all," National Mining Association spokesman Luke Popovich told Brown, "so we look forward to working with him in his very important post." It's unclear when the administration will nominate a permanent MSHA chief.