|Joe Main (file photo)|
However, Main said at the 2013 Central Appalachian Regional Work Safety and Health Symposium that he didn't know when his agency would finalize stricter regulations that it has proposed to deter recent increases in black lung, especially in Central Appalachia. MSHA sent the final rules to the White House Office of Management and Budget this week, Manuel Quinones of Environment & Energy News reports. "It may be months before OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs finishes reviewing the final proposal," Quinones writes. "Two MSHA-proposed rules have been there since 2011." (Read more; subscription may be required)
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says 9 percent of Eastern Kentucky miners screened in one of its programs from 2005 to 2009 had black lung, the highest rate in any state. That was the primary reason for the conference, held by the Central Appalachian Regional Education and Research Center at the University of Kentucky, in partnership with Eastern Kentucky University.
Dr. Edward Petsonk of West Virginia University said he "thought the disease was going to go away" 15 to 20 years ago, when when miners' risk of getting it had dropped by 89 percent. But then it became more prevalent. "and doctors started seeing miners getting severe forms of the diseases at younger ages," Bill Estep notes for the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The National Mining Association opposes the rules, saying that black lung is increasing only in a few areas -- not enough to impose more costs on the entire industry, said Bruce Watzman, the lobbying group's senior vice-president. Petsonk "said NIOSH has documented new cases of black lung in recent years in every state but New Mexico — not the outcome the nation was supposed to see under the 1969 law," Estep reports.
For a more detailed report on the issue and Main's remarks, from Tim Mandell of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, click here.