Trump Reconsiders Rules Protecting Miners from Black Lung

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s mining regulators are reconsidering rules meant to protect underground miners from breathing coal and rock dust — the cause of black lung — and diesel exhaust, which can cause cancer.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has asked for public comments on whether standards “could be improved or made more effective or less burdensome by accommodating advances in technology, innovative techniques, or less costly methods.”

Some “requirements that could be streamlined or replaced in frequency” involve coal and rock dust .

Others address diesel exhaust , which can have health impacts ranging from headaches and nausea to respiratory disease and cancer.

“Because of the carcinogenic health risk to miners from exposure to diesel exhaust, MSHA is requesting information on approaches that would improve control of diesel particulate matter and diesel exhaust,” the agency said.

The Trump administration has said many federal regulations, including pollution restrictions, have depressed the coal industry and other sectors of the economy.

“President Trump made clear the progress his Administration is making in bringing common sense to regulations that hold back job creation and prosperity,” Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said Thursday in releasing his agency’s regulatory and deregulatory agenda. “The Department of Labor will continue to protect American workers’ interests while limiting the burdens of over-regulation.”

The notices on coal dust and underground diesel exhaust had few details. Both were described as “pre-rule stage.”

David Zatezalo, a retired West Virginia coal mining executive chosen by Trump to head MSHA, said at his November confirmation hearing that the U.S. industry is safer and healthier than ever before. He said progress is needed, including technology for real-time monitoring of silica dust blamed for a virulent variation of the black lung disease that has afflicted even some younger coal miners.

The United Mine Workers of America and National Mining Association didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

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