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Kentucky mulls ending state safety inspections for mines

coal mine

Photo: Alex Potemkin/iStockphoto

Frankfort, KY – A sharp downturn in the coal mining industry is prompting some lawmakers in Kentucky to consider ending state safety inspections of coal mines.

Under a proposal (S.B. 297) introduced in the state senate March 3, Kentucky would rely on federal inspectors – rather than state inspections – to ensure mines are operating safely for workers and the public. The state Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee approved the proposal, which remained before the full Senate as of press time.

Lawmakers also introduced S.B. 224, which would erase the requirement for mine foremen to take part in state safety training. The Natural Resources and Energy Committee also signed off on the proposal and sent it to the full Senate, where it remained as of press time. The bill proposes the following change: “This annual training for mine foremen may [shall] be provided [exclusively] by the division or shall be satisfied by the federal mine foreman training requirements under 30 C.F.R. pt. 75.”

According to the Kentucky Coal Association, the state was the No. 3 coal producer in the nation in 2014. Coal mines employed more than 11,000 Kentucky workers in 2014. However, coal production in the state has plummeted to its lowest level since 1962.

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