Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his wife, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao seem to be collaborating on blocking laws that would make work a little safer for coal miners. Depressing, but hardly surprising: McConnell is far and away the favorite Senator of the coal mining industry. They've given him over $100,000 in campaign contributions in the last year alone, nearly $20,000 more than any other Senator according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
I don't what coal miners ever did to the McConnells, but they're paying for it now. From Pete Galvin's op-ed in the Louisville Herald Leader:
Many miners are exposed to toxic chemical substances, and yet nothing has been done to revise exposure limits set 40 years ago. And while the McConnell team is well aware that black lung has returned to exact its horrible toll on a new generation of miners and that there is technology that can end this problem forever, the department continues to ”slow walk“ solutions right to the last day of the administration.
On one hand, the McConnell team opposes legislation passed by the House of Representatives that would adopt specific solutions to longstanding problems. Their primary argument is that these matters are too complex for Congress and ought to be addressed through regulations issued by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
On the other hand, McConnell and company stall the development of such regulations, weaken existing rules and establish new procedures to delay action well into the future. Sadly, this has become standard operating procedure for the McConnell team.
[ . . .]
But the McConnell team takes a different approach for weakening miner protections. The new initiative — which did not come from MSHA, but from the policy office — hasn't been discussed in advance with miners nor listed on the department's twice yearly agenda of rulemaking plans. And reports indicate that it will apparently get only a month or so for public comment, and no hearings. Apparently, shortcuts are OK when the McConnell team says they are.
Good to see the Senator and the Secretary are looking out for the bottom line of the coal industry -- who's looking out for the miners? Oh -- that's right: you don't give, you don't get.