Rockefeller calls for more to combat black lung

Greg Nash

Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) applauded the administration’s announcement Wednesday that it would finalize a rule to reduce coal dust but said more could be done to help miners exposed to the toxic material.

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“While this is a big step forward, it is by no means the end of our fight to eradicate this scourge of coal miners,” Rockefeller said. “And, just as important is our effort to provide healthcare and financial support to those who are already suffering. I’ll do all I can to make sure these miners and their families get the benefits they need and so rightfully deserve.”

The Department of Labor announced it would finalize the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) rule, which aims to reduce coal-dust exposure limits by a quarter for underground mines and improve requirements for air sampling to reduce respiratory disease.

Rockefeller, who represents a state with a large coal industry, has been an advocate for coal miners and pushed for regulations to protect them from black lung, a disease that plagues miners.

“It has been my mission for nearly 50 years to keep our miners and their families safe and secure,” Rockefeller said. “Making sure no miner has to suffer from black lung — and to tirelessly support those who’ve already come down with this debilitating and deadly disease — is at the very heart of my life’s work.”

Black lung has killed more than 10,000 miners from 1995-2004, and the limit on coal dust exposure hasn’t been updated since 1973.

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