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House Committee Rejects New Coal Dust Regulations

David Deal / NPR

A coal miner takes a black lung test in West Virginia


We’ve been telling you how black lung rates in coal miners have doubled over the last ten years.
The disease is caused by exposure to coal dust. As NPR has explained, faulty regulations and loopholes in air monitoring requirements play a large role in the disease’s recurrence.
A bill strengthening the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s coal dust regulations came up for a vote in Congress, this week, but as Gannett reports, the measure was defeated:

A subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday voted 8-6 to pass a spending bill that includes a provision barring the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration from issuing and enforcing new rules on monitoring coal dust levels, a matter that has been debated in the industry for decades.
A Democratic amendment to strip the bill of all policy riders, including the one related to coal-dust rules, was rejected on a 9-5 vote.
The vote comes at the same time as reports that black lung cases have doubled in the past decade. The number of miners with advanced stages of the disease has quadrupled since the 1980s in the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia, according to an investigation by National Public Radio, the Center for Public Integrity and The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette.

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