Murray will sue over mine dust regulations

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Murray Energy Corp. announced Wednesday its intent to sue the U.S. Department of Labor, and others, after the Obama Administration announced new limits on how much coal dust is allowed in mines.

The rule, announced during an event in Morgantown, lowers the overall dust standard from 2.0 to 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter of air. For certain mine entries and miners with black lung disease, the standard is cut in half, from 1.0 to 0.5, according to the rule.

Murray officials termed the new rule “deeply flawed and irrational.”

“Instead of protecting miners’ health, this rule clearly seeks to destroy the coal industry, and the thousands of jobs that it provides, with absolutely no benefit to the health or safety of miners, whatsoever,” a Murray news release reads. “Indeed, numerous independent scientific and technical experts have spent the past four years examining the prospective rule, spending millions of dollars in the process. These independent experts concluded that the prospective rule is deeply flawed, does not improve the health of coal miners, is completely infeasible, and is exorbitantly expensive. Most especially, the work shows that there are far better and more effective ways to protect a miner’s health than this political concoction.”

Murray officials said the Obama Administration ignored the reports and instead approved the rule to further its “war on coal.”

“The Obama Administration completely ignored the voluminous comments of the best experts in the world, which exposed the rule’s irrationality, impossibility of implementation, and numerous other fundamental flaws,” said Murray spokesman Gary M. Broadbent.

“This rule is economically and technologically infeasible, arbitrary and capricious and unsupported by the best available evidence. There are far better ways to minimize any dust that a coal miner may breathe, rather than this politically motivated concoction. We will litigate this matter and get this rule vacated.”

According to Murray Energy, the 1.5 milligrams dust standard is technologically and economically unachievable, even when utilizing the most advanced mining technologies in the world. Additionally, existing technologies cannot reliably or accurately measure dust concentrations that low.

“Our experts indicate that the cost of work stoppages alone, caused by the rule, will cost our nation billions of dollars, per year. (The rule) will close mines, bankrupt coal companies and destroy the lives and livelihoods of thousands of coal miners, without protecting the health or safety of our miners,” the company said.

Murray Energy officials said the company was hopeful that the Obama Administration would propose a rule mandating administrative controls and requiring the use of personal protective equipment, such as Airstream helmets, which would reduce or completely eliminate miner exposure to dust.

“The government’s failure to require personal equipment clearly demonstrates that they did not take into account the best available technology to protect our coal miners,” the company said.