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WASHINGTON, DC -- Members of the Congressional Coal Caucus, including Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-05), sent a letter today to U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta questioning why there remains such a large contingent of mine inspectors within the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), despite the large number of mine closures and lay-offs in the coal industry over the last five years. 

"As you know, due in-large part to the Obama Administration's War on Coal, we have seen the number of operating coal mines in America decline by 35 percent and our number of coal miners drop by more than 43 percent over the last five years," stated Congressional Coal Caucus members in the letter. "And yet, in that same timeframe, the number of MSHA coal inspectors has remained relatively steady, with only 6 percent fewer inspectors. As a result, the number of MSHA coal inspectors substantially exceeds the number necesssary to conduct the number of inspections required by the Mine Safety Act."

Comparable language was included by the House Appropriations Committee in the fiscal year 2018 (FY18) Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill, which passed earlier this week. The Committee also reduced MSHA's FY18 budget for Coal Enforcement Inspectors by $11 million, reiterating the need for MSHA to redistribute resources and activities to areas where mine production is currently occurring. 

"Over the last eight years, we've lost nearly 12,000 coal mining jobs in Eastern Kentucky alone, yet the number of mine inspectors and daily inspections remains steady. The waste is incomprehensible," said Rogers, who is a member of the Congressional Coal Caucus and Chairman Emeritus of the House Appropriations Committee. "It's time for MSHA to align its workforce with meaningful activities, rather than continued unnecessary disruptions at coal mines that have surpassed safety standards." 

Mine safety personnel are required to accompany MSHA inspectors for all daily inspections.

Click here to read the Congressional Coal Caucus' letter.