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Mine Safety Protection Act Fails in House, Kentucky Coal Association Pleased

By Brenna Angel

LEXINGTON, Ky. – U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis says she's deeply disappointed that the Mine Safety Protection of Act of 2010 failed to pass the House this week. The vote was largely along party lines and did not have a two-thirds majority necessary to pass.

Secretary Solis said Thursday that the bill would have been an important step forward in strengthening safety laws for minters. Bill Bissett of the Kentucky Coal Association disagrees.

"The concern here is that it seemed to have more to do with mine management and more hiring and termination practices, things that were kind of away from mine safety itself. So the concern was, it seemed to be getting sort of a government solution that really would have no real impact on mine safety."

House Republicans argued that the measure was being rushed and did not include enough facts and information.

Under the failed proposal, the Mine Safety and Health Administration would have the power to shut down coal mines that have a pattern of safety violations. It was crafted in response to the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia that killed 29 miners in April.

MSHA filed a lawsuit in November seeking to close an eastern Kentucky mine. Massey Energy decided to idle the Pike County operation last week.