Chairman Miller Statement On President Obama’s Comments On Mine Safety

                               Washington, DC (CompNewsNetwork) - U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, issued the following statement on President Barack Obama's comments after meeting with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, the head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, Joe Main, and Administrator for Coal Mine Safety and Health, Kevin Stricklin, on the Upper Big Branch Mine tragedy.
“President Obama is correct that we need to reform a mine safety system that has for far too long been tipped in favor of mine operators – at the expense of miners' lives. The president laid out a number of priorities, many that Congress has worked to enact in the past, that would improve working conditions for our nation's miners.

“These efforts must not suffer the same fate as past initiatives to improve mine safety, when special interests succeeded in killing important reforms. On behalf of the 29 fallen miners, and the hundreds who have died on the job over the years, we must show the courage to take bold action. I look forward to working with the administration to ensure that production and profit are not put ahead of worker safety.”

The Education and Labor Committee has made miner health and safety a top priority for years. In February of 2006, in the aftermath of the tragic Sago mine accident, Democrats on the committee held the first public forum with family members of the fallen miners to ensure that their voices and concerns about mining dangers were heard by Congress. Since 2007, under Chairman Miller's leadership, the committee has held multiple hearings on mine safety and authored legislation to strengthen mine safety laws that was approved by the House in January 2008.

Most recently, the committee looked into mine operators' indiscriminate appeals that created a massive backlog of cases and damaged MSHA's ability to use its enhanced enforcement tools like progressively increased fines and immediate shut down orders for dangerous mines. Yesterday, the chairman released a list of 48 mines identified by MSHA in August 2009 for increased scrutiny, but were not targeted due to unresolved appeals filed by mine operators. The list includes the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia where 29 miners lost their lives in an explosion on April 5. 

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