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Aggregates Left Out Of Mine Safety Bill


At a full House Education and Labor Committee markup of proposed mine safety legislation, surface and underground aggregates mines were excluded from provisions that were designed to prevent reoccurrences of disasters like the Upper Big Branch coal mine tragedy

At a full House Education and Labor Committee markup of proposed mine safety legislation, surface and underground aggregates mines were excluded from provisions designed to prevent reoccurrences of disasters like the Upper Big Branch coal mine tragedy.

The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association and a coalition of other non-coal mining industries had been covering Capitol Hill for weeks in an effort to prevent being swept up by wide-ranging legislation that proposes to increase penalties, criminalize even inadvertent violations of the act, and mandate onerous new reporting requirements, among other things. As originally introduced under the name "Miner Safety and Health Act of 2010," H.R. 5663 (now known as the "Robert C. Byrd Miner Safety and Health Act of 2010") applied its provisions to all mining sectors.

An early evening meeting on July 20 between representatives of NSSGA, led by Vice Chairman Dave Thomey of Maryland Materials and President & CEO Joy Wilson, and committee chairman Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) plus staff resulted in exemption from the bill of all surface mines (except for those physically connected to an underground coal mine or other underground mine containing flammable gasses) and all underground mines that are neither coal nor gassy mines. NSSGA was provided the exemption language added to the chairman's substitute just before 11 p.m.

"The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association and the whole of the aggregates industry appreciate Chairman George Miller's initiative to keep the focus of his mine safety and health bill on the highest risk mining," says NSSGA Chairman Bill Schneider, who is president and CEO of Knife River Corp. "As Chairman Miller understands, we are committed to continued improvements in safety and health; we are not resting on record low injury incidence rates or previous safety and health achievements. It is a process, a value and a commitment."

"The legislation passed today by the House Education and Labor Committee represents an important step forward in strengthening safety laws for our nationís miners," says Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "This bill will compel operators who donít take the safety and health of miners seriously to do so. In addition, by also strengthening the OSHA Act, this bill will improve safety and health for all workers. Every worker deserves to come home safe at the end of a shift.

"There is a tremendous need for swift action on this legislation. I can think of no better way to honor the memory of Senator Robert C. Byrd and all of those workers who have died tragically on the job than to quickly pass this legislation. I hope the full House will take up this bill before the August recess."