UBB victims’ families meet Congress members on Hill, urge action

Washington – Lawmakers should strengthen protections for miners by increasing penalties for mine operators who violate rules, family members of miners killed at the Upper Big Branch mine suggested during meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill.

Twenty-nine miners were killed in the April 2010 explosion. Lawmakers who met with the family members June 6-7 vowed to keep pushing for new laws to ensure such a tragedy does not happen again.

“It is my fervent hope that the Congress responds to the call from these family members and acts expeditiously to address the shortfalls in our national mine safety regime,” Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) said in a statement. “After more than two years and multiple investigations, the loopholes in the law that contributed to the UBB disaster are understood, and we know that most can be addressed through legislation already produced and awaiting action.”

Democrats in both the House and Senate have proposed reform legislation, but the bills have been stalled by Republican opposition. GOP leaders have suggested that granting new powers to the Mine Safety and Health Administration is unnecessary and the agency instead could do more with its current powers.

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