Mine safety bill in Kentucky set up to avoid federal duplication

March 27, 2017

Lawmakers in Kentucky passed House Bill 384 that permanently reduces the number of coal mine inspections to four per year from the six that were mandated in 2015. The Bill was passed with the support of the state Cabinet for Energy and Environment (EEC) and the coal industry, the Daily Independent reported.

The Bill allows EEC Secretary Charles Snavely, at his discretion, to replace three physical inspections with mine safety analysis or compliance assistance inspections — observing miner behavior and suggesting safety improvements. The fourth must be a full electrical inspections.

The idea, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, is to avoid duplication of existing federal inspections while focusing on a major cause of accidents — miner behavior.

The measure was signed into law this week by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, a frequent critic of what he views as federal interference in the coal industry.

Supporters say the bill would give the state flexibility to focus on other safety measures but others were reluctant to vote for a bill that would reduce inspections.

Opponents of the bills argue the bill shifts the responsibility to the miner as a way to protect coal mining companies from liability if an accident does occur.

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