Rockefeller introduces bill to reduce black lung - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Rockefeller introduces bill to reduce black lung

Posted: Updated:
  • GovernmentGovernmentMore>>

  • WV Senate race firing up thanks to 'war on coal'

    WV Senate race firing up thanks to 'war on coal'

    Monday, July 28 2014 2:29 PM EDT2014-07-28 18:29:34 GMT
    The race for West Virginia representation in the U.S. Senate is firing up, in more ways than one. In the first television advertisement released for the West Virginia Senate race, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant shuts off power to the White House.
    The race for West Virginia representation in the U.S. Senate is firing up, in more ways than one. In the first television advertisement released for the West Virginia Senate race, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant shuts off power to the White House.
  • Rep. Nick Rahall addresses need for Congress to 'act' on VA legislation

    Rep. Nick Rahall addresses need for Congress to 'act' on VA legislation

    Monday, July 28 2014 8:27 AM EDT2014-07-28 12:27:49 GMT
    U.S. Rep.Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., said July 25 on the House floor leaders needed to come together and act to complete legislation that addresses shortfalls within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
    U.S. Rep.Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., said July 25 on the House floor leaders needed to come together and act to complete legislation that addresses shortfalls within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • West Virginia sees high rates of health insurance coverage

    West Virginia sees high rates of health insurance coverage

    Saturday, July 26 2014 10:00 AM EDT2014-07-26 14:00:27 GMT
    A new report done by Wallet Hub, a company whose motto is to focus on “financial decisions and saving money,” found only 6 percent of West Virginians do not have health insurance coverage.
    A new report done by Wallet Hub, a company whose motto is to focus on “financial decisions and saving money,” found only 6 percent of West Virginians do not have health insurance coverage.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller on Aug. 1 introduced his third bill this year to protect the health and benefits of coal miners.

The most recent effort is the Black Lung Health Improvements Act of 2013. According to Rockefeller's office, the proposed law would help prevent black lung disease by:

  • Proposing new respirable coal dust standards for those already suffering so their exposure to black lung-causing substances is reduced
  • Increasing miners' access to their health records in the black lung claims process
  • Making it easier for miners to access legal representation when operators refuse to provide benefits
  • Creating new grants for research into the disease; making it easier for long-time miners and their families to collect black lung benefits
  • Requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study ways to make the application process for black lung disability claims easier for miners to navigate, among other provisions

"There was a time when we all thought Black Lung was going to become eradicated. That it was a relic of a more dangerous time for our coal miners. Tragically, that was wrong.  After years of decline, Black Lung cases are rising again in a new generation of miners. We can't let this happen," Rockefeller said in a news release.

"This bill is an important next step in our ongoing fight for miners' health and safety. But it is not, and should not be the end of Congressional action on Black Lung," Rockefeller added. "These men and women have one of the hardest and most challenging jobs on the planet. It's a job that requires strength, dedication and courage – and it's a job that should be met with access to the best health support we can provide."

Rockefeller introduced at least two other mine-related bills this year. The Coalfield Accountability and Retired Employee (CARE) Act, which he introduced in March, would protect benefits for thousands of retired miners whose livelihoods are in jeopardy as Patriot Coal tries to shed its pension and health care obligations in bankruptcy court. In April, he re-introduced an updated version of his comprehensive mine safety legislation, the Robert C. Byrd Mine and Workplace Safety and Health Act, aimed at fixing the glaring safety problems revealed in the wake of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.