Miller on mine safety: ‘Congress has been warned’

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Washington – Citing a recent report that called the Upper Big Branch Mine-South tragedy a “man-made” disaster, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) called on Congress to enact mine safety modernization reforms.

Speaking on the House floor June 2, Miller said in light of an independent investigative panel report commissioned by then-Gov. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia, legislators must update current mine safety laws.

Among the 52 recommendations from its investigation into the April 5, 2010, tragedy that killed 29 miners, the panel suggested both federal and state mine safety laws be strengthened to include greater whistleblower protections and allow for quicker resolution of contested citations and penalties.

“With this report and its recommendations, Congress has been warned,” Miller said. “We should not – we must not – wait for another tragedy before Congress owns up to its responsibility.”

Miller is the sponsor of the Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety Protection Act (H.R. 1579), a bill that seeks to update mine safety and health laws.

The May 19 report also said “sweeping changes” were necessary at the Mine Safety and Health Administration to address its culture and relationship with the mining industry.

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