WV democrats in Washington call on continued mine safety focus - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV Democrats in Washington call for continued mine safety focus

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Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin and Rep. Nick Rahall announced they are pushing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to maintain a strong focus on mine safety as the agency considers spending cuts.

In a letter to DOL's acting secretary, the members of Congress pushed back on DOL's sequestration plans that would "disproportionately cut the Solicitor of Labor's efforts to reduce the backlog of appeals at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission." 

According to a news release issued by Rockefeller's staff, the backlog of appeals of health and safety violations from mining companies has weakened the deterrent effect of mine safety citations and their penalties and also undermined efforts to penalize mines that have repeat safety violations.  To help rectify this, Congress appropriated $22 million through the Supplemental Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2010 to reduce the backlog of appeals at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. 

"While the sequester is imposing hardships on multiple agencies within DOL, these staff cuts to the backlog effort are plainly disproportionate to other work carried out in the Solicitor's office," the letter states. "We find this decision to be unacceptable and instead we believe the Solicitor's Office should apply only proportional cuts to this program activity, so that efforts can be maximized to reduce the backlog of mine safety cases."