Editorial: Black lung protection needed

Published 12:19 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Recently, President Donald Trump and the White House unveiled their plans to cut government regulations of various industries to levels they stood at in 1960.

Trump framed the plan as “cutting red tape” and creating a less burdensome economic climate.

Critics, however, have said that the drastic rollbacks in public oversight of business could have severe consequence for the environment, workplace safety and public health.

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They point out that landmark protections such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Superfund environmental clean-up program were all passed after Trump’s preferred date.

The possibility of eliminating one safeguard, in particular has raised concern for many in the region.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration, has asked for public comments on streamlining or replacing requirements on coal and rock dust, as well as diesel exhaust, a cause of black lung and cancer, to which many coal miners in Appalachia can be exposed. to on the job.

As part of the deregulation push, the White House plans to re-examine a respirable dust rule that went to effect in 2014, after many years of delay in implementation.

Black lung has been the cause of death for tens of thousands of miners. Its prevalence decreased greatly, thanks to the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969.

However, black lung has recently seen a resurgence, with a National Public Radio investigation recently finding higher rates of the most serious stages of the coal miners’ disease black lung than the government reported.

During his presidential campaign, Trump famously donned a miner’s helmet on his visit to West Virginia and pledged to represent their interests.

It is our hope that Trump reconsiders this move and leaves the black lung protection in place. We encourage lawmakers and workers from Appalachia to make their voices heard and to help persuade the White House to drop plans for eliminating the rule.