The Louisville Courier-Journal’s James Carroll reports that coal operators are challenging thousands of safety citations issued by federal mine inspectors, clogging the system with more than 15,000 appeals. Some members of Congress contend that the backlog is “the result of potentially unsafe mines gaming the system to stay in business,” according to Carroll.
“This growing backlog indicates that certain mine operators are abusing their right to challenge a violation,” said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, which was scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday on the issue.“These appeals are clogging the system and putting miners in danger.” Some violations were appealed more than two years ago.
“The system is not fair to anybody,” said Lexington attorney Tony Oppegard, a former federal and state mine safety official. “The system is broken. The interests of coal miners, mine operators and even inspectors aren’t being served.”