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The Trump Transition

Recent actions by President Trump and Congressional Republicans strongly indicate that the president intends to make good on repeated promises to take dramatic action to revitalize the coal industry. Perhaps most important among these recent steps, last month President Trump signed legislation to kill the so-called Stream Protection Rule. The action permanently revokes the U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining’s Stream Protection Rule (SPR), a regulation finalized in the last days of the Obama administration, which sought to protect waterways from coal mining waste.

Congress approved the killing of the rule via the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a 1996 law seldom used until recently, which allows Congress to end administrative restrictions placed by executive agencies in a prior administration. The CRA further prohibits Congress from passing similar legislation in the future. Although the demise of the SPR does little to directly bolster coal production, it does provide welcome relief from burdensome regulatory requirements for an industry already suffering from regulatory pressure and a market downturn.

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How Will Trump’s Nominee for DOL Secretary Affect MSHA, OSHA?

January was anticipated to mark the beginning of change for the Department of Labor (DOL) and its safety agencies, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). President Donald Trump nominated Andrew Puzder as the next secretary of labor, but Puzder withdrew as a nominee. President Trump then nominated Alexander Acosta, a former member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and former United States attorney.

What changes will Acosta bring? Several factors make it hard to predict those changes: he was a law clerk for the now Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito; he prosecuted a multitude of white collar fraud and civil rights cases; and while on the NLRB, he garnered praise from both sides of the aisle.

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Where Employment Law Meets MSHA: Practical Tips to Avoid Whistleblower Claims

All operators are familiar with the rights afforded to all miners under the Mine Act. For example, all miners (hourly or salaried) have the right (1) to file or make a complaint to the agency, the operator or a miner’s representative; (2) to participate in proceedings under the act such as testifying in a proceeding; (3) to withdraw themselves from the mine for not having the required health and safety training; and (4) refuse to work in unsafe conditions. These acts are considered “protected activity” under the Mine Act. Miners who feel they have been discriminated against for engaging in this activity can file a complaint under Section 105(c) of the act.

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Clinton’s and Trump’s Plans for Coal and Other Energy Sources

As the presidential election season enters its final, frenzied phase, it has become readily apparent that once-elected either of the two candidates will have a monumental impact on the nation’s energy future. Although Democrats and Republicans traditionally differ on their energy views, policy experts have stated the sharp disconnect between Hilary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s plans concerning energy and climate change is nothing short of historic. Clinton’s energy plan prioritizes investing in and incentivizing renewable-energy technology to help create jobs and transition the United States to a lower-carbon economy. Trump, meanwhile, calls Clinton and her energy plan extremist, and his “America First” energy plan focuses primarily on the country’s energy independence and growth in fossil fuel production and use.

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No CERCLA Liability for Air Emissions

Being held liable for cleanup costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) is rightly a significant concern for companies in the mining industry. There is no statute of limitations on CERCLA liability, so disposal considerations can have a long-lasting impact on a company’s bottom line.

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