White House approves stricter coal dust rule

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a rule Monday to further restrict the amount of coal dust to which miners can be exposed.

The rule was proposed in 2010 by the Mine Safety and Health Administration in an attempt to reduce black lung disease, a deadly condition that kills hundreds of miners each year and is caused by coal dust.

The action approved Monday is the final rule. OMB's approval was the last major hurdle before the regulation could be published in the Federal Register.

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Under the 2010 proposal, the permissible exposure limit for coal dust in mines would be 1 milligram per cubic meter. That would be half of the current limit, which has been in place since 1972.

The new limit would be phased in over a two-year period.

The National Coal Association opposes the new limit, saying it’s “unwarranted and misdirected.” Data shows the incidence of black lung has fallen in recent decades, so the new limits aren’t necessary, the industry group says.

The United Mineworkers of America supports the rule.

The union’s position was supported earlier this month by a Government Accountability Office study, which found that the science behind the 2010 proposal is sound.

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