Wednesday, September 07, 2005

MSHA: Let Them Breathe Diesel

By Guest Blogger Celeste Monforton

Not offended enough by the misdeeds and insensitivity of this Administration? Try this one: in the September 7, 2005 Federal Register, the Mine Safety and Health Administration proposed weakening a health standard for underground miners exposed to diesel exhaust and particulate matter (DPM). DPM is associated with cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary disease, and MSHA’s 2001 risk assessment estimated 15 excess lung cancer death per 1,000 workers even at the reduced exposure limit.

In this latest assault on miners’ health, MSHA is suggesting that mine operators be given until 2011 to reduce miners’ exposure to DPM. This is the second time in three months that MSHA has backed away from the 2001 DPM rule issued by the Clinton Administration. That original standard gave mine operators five years (until January 2006) to reduce miners’ exposure to DPM to a more health protective limit. With this deadline quickly approaching, well-connected voices in the mining industry heard the clock ticking and called on their friends at OMB to rescue them yet again from the rule.

The mining industry and their lobbyists have proven yet again that they will do anything to postpone spending a few dollars to reduce workers’ exposure to DPM.