Hillary Clinton promised to eliminate coal mining jobs. Donald Trump promised to make coal great again. Coal mining states voted for Donald Trump. Coal miners now have the government they paid for:
“If this is unraveled some mines may again go back to ignoring conditions that can lead to disasters and deaths,” said Joe Main, Obama’s former head of mine safety.
Main led efforts to strengthen the pattern of violation rules, pointing out that serious violations dropped significantly after the 2013 reforms. The Trump administration is currently negotiating a settlement with the Ohio Coal Association and Murray Energy, which sued to stop the rules.
Worker advocates say they are highly concerned about the Labor Department’s decision.
“‘Significant and substantial’ violations are referred to that way for a reason — people die, people lose limbs,” says Phil Smith of the United Mine Workers of America, which sent a letter to the Labor Department questioning the decision to change its safety designation. “Every mine safety law on the books is written in a miner’s blood.”
“President Trump has already put his disregard for coal worker safety into action by refusing to enforce the rule against a West Virginia mine operator repeatedly cited for endangering mine worker safety,” said Charisma Troiano, press secretary for Democracy Forward, a liberal advocacy group in Washington. “Not only are President Trump’s broken promises on worker protections potentially unlawful, they could have dangerous and deadly results.”
Marco Rajkovich, Trump’s nominee to chair the mine safety review commission, has a long history of defending coal companies that have committed safety violations. He is still awaiting Senate confirmation.
Full disclosure: my father was at one time a member of the United Mine Workers of America.