The Atlantic

Stripping Miners of Safety Protections

A West Virginia proposal to help the coal industry by paring back safety regulations may actually protect neither miners or their jobs.
Source: John Raby / AP

Updated March 15 at 3:31 p.m.

When is a mine-safety agency not really a mine-safety agency? Soon, if a bill under consideration in the West Virginia Legislature passes. The proposal would prevent state regulators from writing policies, downgrading their work to drafting suggested guidelines; strip them of the ability to issue citations and fines; and demote safety inspections to offering “safety compliance assistance.”

Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette-Mail, an expert reporter who’s set the standard on the mining beat for years, writes:

Those and other significant changes in a new industry-backed bill would produce a wholesale elimination of most enforcement of longstanding laws and rules put in place over many years — as a result of hundreds of deaths — to protect the health and safety of

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