WASHINGTON -- A noted lawmaker says new federal regulations aimed at strengthening the seals that protect coal miners from dangerous inactive sections of underground mines are inadequate because they ignore a key congressional directive, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal in its Sunday edition.
The problem: they don't cover the 14,000 existing seals in mines -- and thus limit the protection for miners.
Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat who is chairman of the House committee that oversees mine safety, has written Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to express "serious concerns" about the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration's regulations, required by a 2006 law, reports the C-J.
"It would … appear that miners working in mines with existing seals will continue to face the same risks they would have faced if the (2006 law) had never been enacted," Miller's letter said.
MSHA spokesman Matthew Faraci said the 2006 law "does not address the issue of existing seals," reports the newspaper.
But Miller's letter disputes that, saying "the law did not provide an exemption from the new standard for the estimated 14,000 existing seals."
And Tony Oppegard, a Lexington lawyer who is a former state and federal mine-safety official, noted that two previous federal laws already required explosion-proof seals, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal.
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