Murray Energy to sue Labor Dept. over coal-dust rule

Murray Energy Corp. said it will file a federal lawsuit against the Labor Department over the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) new rule limiting coal dust.

Murray announced its intent to sue hours after the MSHA announced its finalized new coal dust limits, which are meant to protect miners against black lung disease.

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“Instead of protecting miners’ health, this rule clearly seeks to destroy the coal industry, and the thousands of jobs that it provides, with absolutely no benefit to the health or safety of miners, whatsoever,” the company said in a statement.

The company, which operates 13 coal mines in six states, said numerous studies in the time since the rule was proposed in 2010 have concluded that the rule is “deeply flawed” and would not protect miners’ health. But the Obama administration ignored that research and any input from the coal industry, Murray said.

Additionally, the standard at the center of the rule is technologically unachievable, the company said. That standard dictates that underground coal mines cannot have more than 1.5 milligrams of coal dust per cubic meter (mg/m3), down from the 2 mg/m3 currently allowed.

“The Obama administration completely ignored the voluminous comments of the best experts in the world, which exposed the rule’s irrationality, impossibility of implementation, and numerous other fundamental flaws,” Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent said in the statement. “This rule is economically and technologically infeasible, arbitrary and capricious, and unsupported by the best available evidence.”

The rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on May 1, at which point Murray would be allowed to file its lawsuit.

Labor spokesman Jesse Lawder declined to comment on Murray’s announcement, since the lawsuit has not yet been filed.

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