Mine safety bills pending after disaster report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Supporters of pending federal mine
safety legislation hope that the final investigative report from
West Virginia's Upper Big Branch disaster will renew interest in
the topic.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller is seeking support for the Robert C.
Byrd Mine and Workplace Safety and Health Act. It would target
problem mines for shutdown, increase penalties for serious safety
violations and seek to protect whistle-blowers.

Rockefeller introduced the measure in January with his fellow
West Virginia Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin. A similar measure failed
to clear the U.S. House late last year.

Critics of the earlier bill called it premature. Federal
officials had not yet finished their investigation into the April
2010 explosion at Upper Big Branch that killed 29 coal miners.

Tuesday's final report blamed systematic wrongdoing by the
mine's owner.

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