The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is under a congressional deadline to complete final rules by December 31 on safety refuges and on conveyor belt flammability and ventilation practices. MSHA sent those documents to OMB on Friday, Nov 14 for final White House review. Deaths of underground coal miners in 2006 led Congress to pass the MINER Act which included provisions “to study” safety refuges and so-called belt-air practices, and subsequent congressional directives ordered MSHA to complete these two rules by Dec 31, 2008.
For more information on the Safety Refuges, see MSHA’s June 2008 proposed rule (here) and read comments received on the proposal (here). Some of the most controversial issues involve whether MSHA’s rule on refuges will conflict with a rule already on the books in West Virginia, and the structural specifications and minimum features of the refuges.
For more information on the Belt-Air issue see the Study Panel Report, Dec 2007, the proposed a rule (June 2008) and extensive comments on the proposed rule here. One of the most controversial parts of this rule is whether MSHA will prohibit mine operators, in all instances, to ventilate the mine using air that courses over a coal transporting conveyor belt.