January 6, 2008
Elaine Chao is quick to give American workers advice, but slow when it comes to doing her own job. I suggest we have a skills gap here.
Ken Ward Jr.
The Bush administration missed a legal deadline to finalize rules to require more and better-trained mine rescue teams across the nation’s coalfields.
Under a 2006 law signed by President Bush, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao was required to issue final rules by Dec. 15, 2007.
The rules are still not finalized, and are sitting at the White House, under review by the Office of Management and Budget.
OMB review of new government rules is required as part of an effort to balance the costs and benefits of federal regulations.
At issue is the first rewrite of federal mine rescue team regulations since 1982.
Last year, lawmakers mandated changes in the rules after questions about the nation’s mine rescue capabilities following the deaths of 19 miners in the Sago and Darby disasters and the Aracoma Mine fire, all in 2006. The changes were required as part of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act, signed by President Bush on June 15, 2006.
The MINER Act gave MSHA 18 months to finalize the new rules.
MSHA took nearly all of that time — 15 months of it — to write its proposed changes. The proposed rules were published in the Federal Register on Sept. 6, 2007.
A public comment period, also required by law, lasted until Nov. 16. MSHA submitted its final version for OMB review on Dec. 13, two days before the MINER Act deadline to issue the rules.
Sean Kevelighan, press secretary for OMB, said he could not provide a timeline for his agency completing its review of the mine rescue team rules.