Mining industry files lawsuit against coal dust rule

The National Mining Association (NMA) is asking an appeals court to weigh in on the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) new limit on miners’ coal dust exposure.

NMA is seeking court review “because the rule embodies fundamental legal and technical infirmities in its scope, foundation and framework,” the group said in a Monday statement.

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“The paramount issue here — the protection of our workforce — demands focused and effective solutions that deliver real protections to those who need them,” NMA President Hal Quinn said in a statement. “These solutions are absent in this ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that fails to reflect the constructive suggestions from representatives of industry and labor.”

The rule, announced in April, reduces miners’ allowable coal dust exposure in underground mines to 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3), down from the 2 mg/m3 standard that had not changed in decades. MSHA’s 2010 proposal had sought a decrease to 1 mg/m3.

The final rule also ramped up air sampling requirements and mandated air monitors for each miner.

In addition to the petition filed in the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, NMA wrote to MSHA to request that the rule’s effective dates be postponed. The first change, requiring that mining companies take immediate action if a single air sample exceeds standards, is due to take effect in August.

NMA’s petition joins one previously filed in the Cincinnati-based Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit against the rule by Murray Energy.

MSHA, which is part of the Department of Labor, did not respond to a request for comment.