MSHA’s current standards for silica have not substantively changed in over 50 years, the report found, despite growing consensus that silica is a major contributor to a surge in black lung disease that’s centered in the Ohio Valley.
Coal mines have been designated essential businesses in most states. But state and federal agencies are not tracking coronavirus transmissions or regulating sanitation to keep those essential workers safe.
Some of the largest coal companies in the United States are using the coronavirus crisis to pressure Congress to slash the tax that finances the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, a lifeline for more than 20,000 miners whose lung disease makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
The nation’s coal companies, citing the economic impact of the covid-19 pandemic, want to roll back their payments to the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. That would leave the federal government to pick up the tab for 25,000 ailing miners.
Kentucky is home to the largest cluster of black lung cases since the 1990s. The Republican state legislature now limits who can make a diagnosis. With the support of dissenting legislators, some miners are fighting back.
Jane Worthington moved her grandkids to protect them from oil and gas wells—but it didn't work. In US fracking communities, the industry's pervasiveness causes social strain and mental health problems.