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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Mine Act - Transcript

>> GOOD AFTERNOON.
>> GOOD AFTERNOON.
>> MAYBE IT'S NOT SUCH A GOOD AFTERNOON.
NO IT'S A GREAT AFTERNOON.
THANK YOU FOR JOINING US THIS AFTERNOON.
BEFORE WE START OUR PROGRAM, PLEASE JOINNY IN WELCOMING JOHN LYNETTI, FROM THE UNITED MINE WORKERS, HE'S A FORMER MINER AND VETERAN AND HE WILL LEAD US IN THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> ALL:  I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND TO THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS ONE NATION UNDER GOD INDIVISIBLE WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.
>> THANK YOU, JOHN.
>> IT'S NOW MY EXTREME PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE A MAN WHO NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION TO THIS CROWD.
HE IS A MAN WHO HAS SPENT HIS ENTIRE WORKING LIFETIME ADVOCATING FOR AND WORKING TIRELESSLY ON MINERS, SAFETY, AND HEALTH.
MINERS ARE SAFER TODAY AND HEALTHIER TODAY BECAUSE OF HIS WORK AND HIS WORK HAS JUST BEGUN, IT'S MY PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF LABOR FOR MINE, SAFETY, AND HEALTH, MR. JOE MAIN.
[ APPLAUSE ]
THANK AND YOU AGAIN I WANT TO WELCOME YOU ALL HERE ON THIS DAY TO CELEBRATE A PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT FOREVER CHANGED THE HISTORY IN MINING IN THIS COUNTRY.
WE'RE HERE TODAY TO COMMEMORATE THE 40th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FEDERAL COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT OF 1969.
IT IS A MINE ACT THAT INSTITUTED THE STRONGEST PROTECTIONS, THE STRONGEST STANDARDS OF MINE SAFETY EVER EXISTED IN THIS COUNTRY.
AND, THE NEW LAW HAS SO MUCH IMPACT IT NOT ONLY AFFECTED THE MINERS IN THIS COUNTRY, BUT CONGRESS SAW FIT TO SPAWN OFF THAT TO DEVELOP OTHER LEGISLATION WHICH IS THE OSHA ACT, THE CREATION OF NIOSH, THAT EXISTS TODAY.
THE NEW LAW SET FORTH SO MANY STANDARDS THAT IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO RATTLE OFF THE PROTECTIONS THAT MINERS GAINED ON A HISTORICAL DAY, NOT DID IT IMPROVE QUALITY OF HEALTH AND SAFETY BY THE STANDARDS THAT WAS IMPLEMENTED, THE ENFORCEMENT OF THOSE STANDARDS BUT IT CREATED SOME NEW GROUND AND THAT NEW GROUND WAS THE CONTROL OF COAL MINE DUST IN THIS COUNTRY THAT WAS LEADING TO THE TERRIBLE DISEASE KNOWN AS BLACK LUNG AND FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT NEW LEGISLATION PROVIDED BENEFITS FOR THOSE MINERS THAT WERE ADVERSELY AFFECTED BY BREATHING COAL DUST WHICH DESTROYED THEIR HEALTH AND CUT SHORT THEIR LIVES.
AS WE CELEBRATE TODAY, I WANT TO OFFER SOME THANKS TO THE ENERGY AND MINERAL LAW FOUNDATION AND THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND LAW SPECIAL INSTITUTE THAT'S GOING ON HERE TODAY AND THEY GAVE US A LITTLE BIT OF THEIR TIME TO SQUEEZE IN THIS VERY IMPORTANT EVENT TO CELEBRATE THE 1969 MINE, HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT AND AGAIN, I THANK YOU FOR PROVIDING US THIS OPPORTUNITY.
YOU'RE GOING TO BE HEARING FROM SEVERAL SPEAKERS TODAY ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE 1969 MINE ACT AND THAT'S AN IMPACT ON MINERS AND THEIR FAMILIES AND THIS MINE ACT NOT ONLY IMPROVED THE HEALTH AND SAFETY CONDITIONS OF THE MINERS WHO TOILED IN THE MINES, BUT IT ALSO DRAMATIC LIE AFFECTED THE FAMILIES OF THOSE MINERS.
FOR EVERY ONE OF THOSE MINERS THAT PERISHED IN A MINE ACCIDENT, FROM BLACK LUNG, THE FAMILIES, THE IMPACT ON THOSE FAMILIES WAS A TERRIBLE AS IT WAS THE MINERS THEMSELVES.
AND THE MINE ACT REALIZED THIS, OR THE FRAMERS OF THE MINE ACT WHEN IT WAS PASSED IN 1969 AND THEDEVOTED ATTENTION TO THE CONCERNS THAT CONGRESS HAD OVER  THE GRIEF AND SUFFERING OF THE FAMILIES OF THE MINERS SO WE ALWAYS KEEP THAT IN MIND AS WE CELEBRATE THE BENEFITS OF THIS MINE ACT.
BEFORE WE WELCOME OUR SPEAKERS, I WOULD LIKE TO INTRODUCE A SPECIAL VIDEO THAT WAS PREPARED BY THE HEALTH AND SAFETY MINE ACADEMY, IT'S A CLIPOT HISTORY OF MINE SAFETY, AND THE 1969 MINE ACT.
IF YOU WOULD ROLL THE VIDEO PLEASE.
[¶ MUSIC ¶]
>> THERE'S BEEN EXTRAORDINARY DRAMA IN THE HISTORY OF COAL MINING AND THE STRUGGLES OF COAL MINERS AND THEIR FAMILIES.
THE UNDERGROUND WORK WAS DIRTY AND DANGEROUS.
MINERS PICKED AND SHOVELED COAL FOR LONG HOURS EACH DAY AND GOT IT INTO SMALL CARS AND PUSHED THE CARS TO AN AREA WHERE THEY COULD BE PULLED TO THE SURFACE.
THIS WAS AN ERA IN WHICH DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY AT WORK WAS A RISK OF MINING ACCEPTED BY MINE OPERATORS AND TO A LARGE EXTENT BY MINERS THEMSELVES.
LAST MONTH IN 1907 CAME TO BE CALLED BLOODY DECEMBER AS 692 MINERS PERISHED IN UNDERGROUND COAL MINE EXPLOSIONS, THE GREATEST OF THESE OCCURRED ON DECEMBER 6 AT THE MINE IN WEST VIRGINIA, WHERE 362 OF THE 367 MINERS WERE KILLED.
THIS WAS THE LARGEST SINGLE DEATH TOLL IN A MINE DISASTER IN U.S. HISTORY.
AS MIDCENTURY APPROACHED, THE INDUSTRY BEGAN TO LOOK TO MECHANIZATION AND TO DEVELOP MACHINES SUCH AS THE CONTINUOUS MINER THAT COULD COMBINE CUTTING, LOADING AND TRANSPORTATION OF COAL.
EXPLOSIONS AT THE NUMBER FIVE MINE IN 1947 AND THAT THE NUMBER TWO MINE IN 1952 KILLED 219 MINERS.
THE LOSS OF LIFE IN THESE DISASTERS DIRECTED ATTENTION TO NATIONAL COAL MINE SAFETY AND PRODUCED AN OUTCRY OF FEDERAL SAFETY LEGISLATION AND LEADING TO THE PASSAGE OF THE FEDERAL COAL MINE SAFETY ACT OF 1952.
THE FEDERAL COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT OF 1969 WAS BORN OUT OF A MINING DISASTER THAT OCCURRED IN NOVEMBER 1968, WHEN 78 MINERS DIED IN AN EXPLOSION THAT CONSOLIDATION CLOSED NUMBER NINE MINE IN FARMINGTON, WEST WEST.
MEMBERS OF THE MINING COMMUNITY ANGERED BY THE COAL AND THE LIVES OF MINERS RALLIED TOGETHER AND CALLED FOR SWEEPING CHANGES.
WIDOWS OF SOME OF THE FALLEN MINERS TRAVELED TO WASHINGTON TO TESTIFY BEFORE CONGRESS.
THE ACT WAS A FUNDAMENTAL SHIFT IN MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH AND INSTITUTED THE STRONGEST AND MOST COMPREHENSIVE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH PROTECTIONS THAT HAD EVER BEEN ENACTED.
IT'S BEEN 40 YEARS SINCE THE PASSAGE OF THE COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT OF 1969.
OUR NATION'S MINERS WORK AT AN INCREASINGLY COMPLEX ENVIRONMENT, USING SOPHISTICATED MACHINERY AND EQUIPMENT.
IN THAT TIME THERE HAVE BEEN GREAT ADVANCES IN SAFETY AND HEALTH TECHNOLOGY REFLECTED IN MACHINE DESIGN.
EQUIPMENT SAFETY FEATURES, ELIMINATION, GAS DETECTION, DUSK DETECTION AND MANY OTHER TOOLS TO HELP THE MINER.
CONGRESS PASSED THE FEDERAL MINE, SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT OF 1977 TO EXPAND MANY OF THE PROTECTIONS OF THE 1969 COAL MINE ACT TO THE THE WHOLE MINING INDUSTRY.
AFTER THE 2006 TRAGEDIES AT THE SEGO AND COAL MINES IN WEST VIRGINIA, AND THE DARBY MINE IN EASTERN KENTUCKY, CONGRESS PASSED THE MINE IMPROVEMENT AND NEW EMERGENCY RESPONSE MINER ACT OF 2006 TO PROVIDE COAL MINERS WITH GREATER PROTECTIONS IN THE EVENT OF A MINE EMERGENCY.
SINCE THE PASSAGE OF THE MINER ACT, SAFETY AND HEALTH AND THE U.S. MINING INDUSTRY HAS DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED.
THE MINING INDUSTRY HAS EXPERIENCED RECORD LOW NUMBERS OF FATALITIES THE LAST TWO YEARS.
ALL THE CHANGES OF THE LAST 40 YEARS HAVE BEEN GREATLY IMPROVED MINER PROTECTION, HOWEVER, THAT REMAINS THE CONSTANTSY OF ALL IN THE MINING COMMUNITY TO, PROTECT THE INDUSTRIES MOST PRECIOUSRY SOURCE, THE MINER AND TO END FATALITIES AND INJURIES AND OCCUPATIONAL ILLNESS IN OUR NATION'S MINES.
WORKING TOGETHER, WE CAN ACHIEVE THAT GOAL.
WE ARE SUCCESSFUL WHEN EACH MINER GOES HOME SAFE AND HEALTHY EVERY DAY, EVERY SHIFT.
[¶ MUSIC ¶]
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> I THINK IT'S FAIR TO SY IN LOOKING AT THAT SHORT VIDEO WE'VE COME A LONG WAY SINCE MINING BEGAN IN THIS COUNTRY AND SINCE THE ENACTMENT OF THE 1969 COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT, WE'VE COME A LONG WAY IN TERMS OF IMPROVEMENTS IN MINE SAFETY IN THIS COUNTRY.
I WOULD LIKE TO DO SOME RECOGNITIONS IF I COULD FOR A FEW MINUTES.
WE HAD SOME SPECIAL GUESTS THAT ARE HERE TODAY THAT'S PART OF THE MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY FAMILY THAT I THINK SHOULD GET SOME RECOGNITION FOR THE WORK THAT THEY DO, AND THE FIRST FIRST IS DR. JOHN HOWARD WHO IS THE DIRECTOR OF NIOSH AND A SISTER AGENCY, DAVID YOUNG PRESIDENT OF THE COOPERATOR'S ASSOCIATION.
DAN KAIN WHO IS THE SECRETARY TREASURER OF THE UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA.
[ APPLAUSE ]
FRANK NELSON, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF CHEVRON MINING.
[ APPLAUSE ]
WE HAVE A PORTION OF THE FEDERAL MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH REVIEW COMMISSION, WITH US TODAY INCLUDING THE CHAIRMAN, MARY LIEU JORDAN.
SHE'S HERE SOMEWHERE, I KNOW.
[ APPLAUSE ]
SCOTT HOME.
MIKE DUFFY.
AND ALSO WE HAVE ROBERT LESNECK WHO IS A CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE IN THE REVIEW COMMISSION.
LET ME‑‑AFL‑CIO WE HAVE PEG WHO IS THE DIRECTOR OF HEALTH AND SAFETY.
PEG?
[ APPLAUSE ]
AND WE HAVE REPRESENTATIVES FROM A NUMBER OF UNIONS TODAY, WE HAVE DENNIS ODELL, SAFETY DIRECTOR, AND OPERATIONS ENGINEERS, EMMITT RUSSELL, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF COAL MAKERS AND MARK GARRETT, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS IS FRED CALDWEL.
AND LEWIS FROM THE UNITED STEEL WORKERS.
AND THE LOCAL 12, I THINK WE HAVE ELENNOR LANDERDAUGHT, AND THE EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT.
WE HAVE REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE NATIONAL COALITION OF BLACK LUNG DISEASE CLINICS, LINDA GUGLE.
AND WE HAVE SEVERAL REPY SENTATIVES FROM‑‑REPRESENTATIVES FROM CONGRESS HERE TODAY, STAFF REPRESENTATIVES WHO ARE IN THE CROWD.
IF YOU WOULD, STAND.
AND WE HAVE OUR STAFF HERE FROM EMSHA, THAT GIVES CREDIT FOR A LOT OF THE HARD WORK AND HEAVY LIFTING THAT GETS DONE EVERY DAY AND MAKES EVENTS LIKE THIS POSSIBLE.
I WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF THE STAFF WHO WORKED HARD FOR BOTH MINE SAFETY AND ON THIS EVENT, PLEASE STAND.
AND THIS IS A SPECIAL ONE.
I WOULD LIKE FOR THOSE AROUND IN 1969, DURING THE CREATION OF THIS MINE ACT WHO'S WORKING TO HELP BRING IT ABOUT, THE HELP HELP IMPLEMENT IT, DURING THIS MINING ACTION, PLEASE STAND.
I CALL US THE OLD GRAY HAIRS OF THE GROUP.
IF YOU WOULDN'T MIND STAND.
[ APPLAUSE ]
THOSE ARE VERY EVENTFUL TIMES BACK IN 1969 AND AS THE WORLD CHANGED AND THE MINING INDUSTRY WAS PRESENTED WITH A NEW MINING LAW THAT WAS PRETTY COMPREHENSIVE.
WE TALKED ABOUT THINGS LIKE PUTTING, BUILDING MACHINES AND COAL MINES.
WE TALKED ABOUT THE CHANGING THE WAY WE VENTILATED MINES.
WE LOOKED AT HOW WE BETTER DESIGNED EQUIPMENT.
WE LOOKED AT HOW WE WERE GOING TO SAMPLE ALL THIS COAL MINE DUST, THERE'S A BIG EFFORT THAT TOOK PLACE TO BRING ABOUT THE KIND OF PROTECTIONS THAT WE NOW TAKE FOR GRANTED TODAY.
BUT AS WE MOVE THROUGH TODAY, I THINK WE‑‑WE NEED TO KEEP IN MIND WHAT THE INDUSTRY LOOKED LIKE IN 1969 BEFORE THAT MINE ACT AND WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE TODAY.
IT IS A TREMENDOUS CHANGE THAT HAS TAKEN PLACE.
AS WE MOVE FORWARD WITH THE PROGRAM, I HAVE TO MAKE AN ANNOUNCEMENT THERE,'S ANOTHER EVENT THAT OVERSHADOWED OUR EVENT THIS MORNING IT WAS A PASSAGE OF THIS‑‑IT IS A PASSAGE OF CONGRESS.
WHICH WE BELIEVE WILL CHANGE THE WORLD FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT WERE NOT AS FORTUNATE AS THOSE WHO HAVE HEALTHCARE, BUT THAT EVENT HAS ALTERED OUR A NUMBER OF FOLKS ON THE PODIUM WAS ON THE WHITE HOUSE THIS MORNING TO BE PART OF A HISTORIC SIGNING CEREMONY,‑‑CONGRESSMAN MILLER WHO IS GOING TO TALK ABOUT MINE SAFETY AS WELL SO WHAT MAY HAPPEN IS, IF THEY FINISH UP IN TIME, THEY MAY BE HERE, SO WE'RE GOING TO SORT OF ALTER THE PROGRAM A BIT TO KEEP THE PLACE HOLDER FOR THE SECRETARY AND CONGRESSMAN MILLER IF THEY'RE ABLE TO MAKE IT HERE, BUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EVENT ON CAPITOL HILL‑‑OR AT THE WHITE HOUSE TODAY, I THINK WE SHOULD EXPECT THAT THAT MAY NOT HAPPEN BUT WE COULD GET A GREAT SURPRISE.
BUT WITH THAT I WOULD LIKE TO START THE INTRODUCTION OF THE SPEAKERS FOR TODAY'S EVENT AND THE FIRST SPEAKER WILL BE SPEAKING IN BEHALF OF A PERSON THAT I THINK MOST MINERS IN THIS COUNTRY CONSIDER ONE OF THE GREATEST CHAMPIONS ON CAPITOL HILL FOR MINE SAFETY AND THAT'S SENATOR BIRD.
SENATOR BIRD WASN'T ABLE TO BE HERE WITH US TODAY BUT WE HAVE DR. DAVID CORBINOT SENATOR STAFF HERE TO DELIVER A MESSAGE FROM THE SENATOR.
AND I THINK THAT IF WE LOOK BACK IN HISTORY, SINCE THE 1969 MINE ACT AND PICK THE FOLKS ON CAPITOL HILL THAT WAS MOST INSTRUMENTAL IN MOVING HEALTH AND SAFETY TOWARD WHERE IT IS TODAY AT THE TOP OF THAT LIST, WOULD BE SENATOR ROBERT E. BIRD.
AND WITH THAT, IF YOU WOULDN'T MIND, COMING FORWARD AND DELIVERING THE MESSAGE FROM THE SENATOR.
[ APPLAUSE ]
DAVID?
>> SECOND MAINE, PRESIDENT ROBERTS, MR. WATS MAN, MR. TARLEY, SENATOR BIRD ASKED ME TO REPRESENT HIM AND ASK ME TO EXTEND TO ALL OF YOU HIS WARMEST GREETS AND EVERYONE ELSE AND A SINCERE THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE TODAY BECAUSE THIS LEGISLATION MEANT SO MUCH TO HIM.
HE ALSO ASKED ME TO READ THIS LETTER TO YOU:  DEAR FRIENDS, THIS LETTER FROM SENATOR BIRD.
DEAR FRIENDS, I THANK THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, MINE, SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION FOR THIS HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT MUCH 1969.
IT IS FOUR DECADES LATER I'M STILL SO PROUD OF MY ROLE IN THE FORMULATION AND PASSAGE THAT GROUND BREAKING LANDMARK LEGISLATION AND SO PLEASED I HAVE BEEN ASKED TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS CELEBRATION.
MY FATHER WAS A COAL MINER, I MARRIED A COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER, SO WHEN I TALK ABOUT COAL MINERS I'M NOT SIMPLY REFERRING TO OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORY.
OR TO A VOTING GROUP, I'M TALKING ABOUT MY FAMILY, MY FRIENDS, MY NEIGHBORS.
GROWING UP IN THE SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA COAL FIELDS I SAW THE BODIES OF TOO MANY COAL DIGGERS PULLED FROM THE COAL MINES AFTER AN EXPLOSION, I HELP CARRY THE COFFINS OF TWO MANY COAL MINERS WHO PERISHED IN MINING AXES, TO THIS DAY I STILL RECALL THE FACES OF THE WIDOWS AND CHILDREN OF THESE FALLEN MINERS.
THEREFORE, FROM THE EARLIEST DAYS IN THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS, I HAVE BEEN A MOSTLY COMMITTED TO IMPROVING THE HEALTH AND SAFETY CONDITIONS OF THE MEN WHEN AND WOMEN WHO WORK IN OUR NATION'S COAL MINES, SPONSORED AND SUPPORTIVE LEGISLATION TO EXPAND AND IMPROVING FEDERAL MINE SAFETY LAWS.
THEN ON NOVEMBER 20th 1968, CAME THAT HORRIFIC EXPLOSION IN FARMINGTON NUMBER NINE WHICH TOOK THE LIVES OF 78 WEST VIRGINIA COAL MINERS.
I WAS SICK.
I WAS SADDENED, I WAS MAD, I WAS DETERMINED TO DO SOMETHING.
UPON HEARING OF THAT TRAGEDY, I WENT TO THE SENATE FLOOR AND DECLARED, "THE TIME HAS COME TO DO MORE THAN COPE WITH THE MEN SIS WHO WITH WIPE OUT LIVES IN A SINGLE HORRIBLE ACCIDENT.
WE CAN AND WE MUST ELIMINATE THESE HAZARDS."
IN RESPONSE TO THAT TRAGEDY CONGRESS APPROVED PUBLIC LAW 91173, THE FEDERAL COAL MINE AND HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT OF 1969, THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE LEGISLATION COVERING THE MINING INDUSTRY IN HISTORY AND TO THIS DAY, THE STRONGEST WORKER PROTECTION LAW IN THE WORLD.
THIS LEGISLATION HAD IMMEDIATE AND LIFE ALTERING IMPACT AND IN THE 25 YEARS IN, IN THE YEARS BEFORE THIS ACT WAS ADOPTED, IT'S NOT UNUSUAL TO HAVE 250 TO 300 MINERS KILL INDEED A SINGLE YEAR, BY THE 1990S, THE NUMBER HAD DROPPED DRAMATICALLY.
DURING THE PAST FEW YEARS OF SEGO, ERIC COPO AND CRANDALL CANYON HAVE SERVED AS DEADLY REMINDERS THAT COAL AND SAFETY REGULATIONS ARE ONLY AS GOOD AND EFFECTIVE AS THE PEOPLE WHO ARE THERE TO ENFORCE THEM.
LET US NOT FORGET THE HEALTH QUESTIONS.
BLACK LUNG STILL EXISTS AND IN FACT, IT'S ON THE INCREASE.
THIS PROTECTION FOR MINERS ALSO NEEDS TO INCREASE.
CONGRESS MAY WRITE THE LAWS ABOUT THE ADMINISTRATION, THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, EMSHA, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY MINE INSPECTORS MUST BE WILLING AND READY TO ENFORCE MINE SAFETY LAWS.
I AM CONFIDENT THAT TODAY'S COMMEMORATION OF THE HISTORIC 1969 COAL ACT IS A SYMBOL OF THE ADMINISTRATION'S COMMITMENT TO ENFORCING OUR NATION'S COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY LAWS.
THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME TO BE PART OF IT.
SINCERELY YOURS, ROBERT C. BIRD U.S. SENATE.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> THANK YOU.
YOU KNOW THERE'S A TREND, THE NEXT SPEAKER THAT I'M GOING TO INTRODUCE FOR THIS STATEMENT WILL BE READ, ALSO IS A SENATOR, ALSO HIS FATHER WAS A COAL MINER, AND HE AS WELL IS SOMEONE THAT HAS BEEN VERY INSTRUMENTAL IN MOVING FORWARD, HEALTH AND SAFETY IN THIS COUNTRY.
HE JOINED WITH SENATOR BIRD TO HELP ON THE SENATE SIDE WITH SENATOR KENNEDY, SENATOR ENZY AND OTHERS TO ENACT THE LATEST LEGISLATION AFFECTING HEALTH AND SAFETY AND A COAL MINE SO THAT WAS THE MINOR ACT OF 2006.
THE INDIVIDUAL THAT I'M TALKING ABOUT IS U.S. SENATOR TOM HARKIN WHO IS CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE HEALTH COMMITTEE THAT SHEPHERDED THROUGH THE NEW MINER ACT REVISIONS.
WITH THAT I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE DR. GREGORY WAGNER, THE DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FROM EMSHA READ A STATEMENT THAT HAS BEEN PREPARED AND SENT FOR A READING TODAY ON THIS HISTORIC OCCASION, DR. WAGNER?
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> THANK YOU, THIS IS SENATOR HARKIN'S STATEMENT, IT SAYSOT 40th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FEDERAL COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT, WE HAVE MUCH TO CELEBRATE.
I WANT TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO THANK SECRETARY SOLIS, ASSISTANT SECRETARY JO MAINE FOR THEIR OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP AND DEDICATION TO ACHIEVING THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF HEALTH AND SAFETY, AMERICA'S MINERS DESERVE NO LESS.
THE COAL MINE ACT ESTABLISHED THE STRONGEST AND MOST COMPREHENSIVE MINE SAFETY, STANDARDS AND HEALTH PROTECTIONS EVER.
THIS LANDMARK LEGISLATION PAVED THE WAY FOR FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS IN THE MINING INDUSTRY AND ADDITIONAL PROTECTIONS FOR MINERS.
INCLUDING CREATION OF THE MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION WITH THE PASSAGE OF THE 1977 FEDERAL MINE AND SAFETY HEALTH ACT.
SENATOR HARKIN SAYS:  I WAS PLEASED TO PLAY A MAJOR ROLE IN ENACTING THE MINER IMPROVEMENT AND NEW EMERGENCY RESPONSE ACT OF 2006.
THE LIVES OF THOUSANDS OF MINER VS BEEN SAVED AND THE NUMBER OF ACTS ACCIDENTS AT COAL MINES REDUCED BECAUSE OF THE STRONG REFORMS ENACTED OVER THE YEARS.
THIS MARCH OF PROGRESS BEGAN WITH THE SIGNING OF THE COAL MINE ACT.
THE 79 MINERS KILLED IN THE 1968 FARMINGTON MINE EXPLOSION WILL FOREVER BE REMEMBERED.
IT WAS OUTRAGE OVER THESE TRAGIC DEATHS THAT LEAD TO THE PASSAGE OF THE COAL MINE ACT, HOWEVER THE FACT THAT THOUSANDS OF MINERS HAVE BEEN KILLED ON THE JOB OVER THE ENSUING FOUR DECADE SYSTEM A DAILY REMINDER THAT MUCH MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE TO IMPROVE MINE WORKPLACE SAFETY.
ON THIS ANNIVERSARY, WE ALSO HONOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN INJURED OR MADE ILL AS A RESULT OF WORK NOTHING OUR COAL MINES.  THIS IS PERSONAL WITH ME.
MY FATHER WAS A COAL MINER WHO DEVELOPED DEVASTATING BLACK LUNG WORKING MANY YEARS IN THE MINES.
I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO LOSE A FAMILY MEMBER WHO SUFFER FRIDAY A OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE, WHILE FATALITY VS DECLINED IN YEARS BLACK LUNG STILL CLAIMS ABOUT A THOUSAND LIVES ANNUALLY AND IS CURRENTLY ON THE RISE.
THE COAL MINE ACT WHICH IS MANDATED THE ERADICATION OF BLACK LUNG IN THE COAL MINES INDUSTRY, MARKED THE FIRST TIME CONGRESS HAD CALLED FOR ELIMINATING AN OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE IN A MAJOR INDUSTRY.
AGAIN, WE HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO, BUT THANKS TO THE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES AND CONTINUED PROGRESS IN THE IMPROVEMENT OF MINE WORKERS SAFETY AND WITH A HUGE ASSIST FROM THE DEPARTMENTS AND BLACK LUNG INITIATIVE, WE ARE REDOUBLING OUR COMMITMENT TO MINIMIZING MINERS EXPOSURES TO THE DANGERS OF COAL MINE DUST.
IT'S HEARTENING TO KNOW THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR IS ONCE AGAIN BEING LED BY A TEAM THAT'S PASSIONATELY COMMITTED TO WORKER SAFETY, NOT ONLY IN COAL MINES, BUT IN ALL OF OUR WORKPLACES.
NEVER AGAIN SHOULD WE PUT PROFITS AHEAD OF PEOPLE AND THEIR SAFETY.
I SALUTE EVERYONE IN THE DEPARTMENT FOR YOUR DEDICATION TO THIS ALL‑IMPORTANT MISSION.
THANK YOU.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> I BELIEVE WE MAY HAVE AN ADDITION TO THE AGENDA.
AND I THINK MICHAEL WASK IS GOING TO READ A RESOLUTION THAT WAS JUST INTRODUCED TODAY ON THE‑‑THIS HISTORIC OCCASION BY SENATOR PATTY MURRAY WHO IS A CHAIRMAN IN A SUBCOMMITTEE IN THE SENATE THAT DEALS WITH HEALTH AND SAFETY AND IF YOU WOULDN'T MIND COMING FORWARD?
>> LFIRST I WOULD LIKE TO THANK SECRETARY MAINE FOR THIS SURPRISE LAST MINUTE OPPORTUNITY AND SEEMS TO REMIND ME OF WHAT'S CALLED FOND MEMORIES OF MANDATORY PUBLIC SPEAKING CLASSES IN SCHOOL.
BUT TODAY, SENATOR MURRA, AY WITH SENATOR HARKIN AND BIRD SPONSORED A SENATE RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING THE 40th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ENACTMENT OF THE FEDERAL HEALTH AND COAL MINE SAFETY ACT OF 1969, THE COAL ACT, PREDECESSOR OF THE THIS ACT OF 1977 HAS LED TO MANY IMPROVEMENTS FOR OUR NATION'S COAL MINERS TO QUOTE THE SENATOR:  40 YEARS AGO TODAY THIS HISTORIC BILL MADE AMERICA'S COAL MINER SAFER AND HEALTHIER PLACES TO WORK, OVER THE LAST FOUR DECADE WE HAVE CONTINUALLY WORKED TO IMPROVE MINE SAFETY AND I PLAN TO KEEPIFIEDING FOR INCREASED TRAINING, RIGOROUS ENFORCEMENT AND SAFETY REGULATIONS AND FUNDING FOR ECNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS TO MAKE SURE THAT THE PROGRESS CONTINUES.
THANK YOU.
[ APPLAUSE ]
THANK YOU MICHAEL, WHEN WE GET A HISTORIC STATEMENT LIKE THAT WE HAVE TO YOU KNOW GET IT OUT INTO THE PUBLIC.
AND I APPRECIATE THAT.
>> WE ALSO RECEIVED ANOTHER LETTER TODAY THAT I WANT TO READ AND IT IS FROM PRESIDENT BARAK OBAMA AND HE WANTED TO SEND HIS MESSAGE TO US THAT HE BOTH UNDERSTANDS THE EVENT THAT WE'RE HAVING TODAY AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS.
IT IS AS FOLLOWS:  I SEND GREETINGS TO THE SECRETARY OF LABOR HILDA SOLIS AND ALL THOSE COMMEMORATING THE FEDERAL COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT.
IN COMMUNITIES ACROSS AMERICA, THE DANGERS OF MINING HAVE BEEN EXPOSED THROUGH DISASTERS AND TERRIBLE LOSSES OF LIFE, THESE WERE ONCE ALL TOO COMMON IN OUR COUNTRY.
REVEALING THE NEED FOR OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY MEASURES TO PROTECT MINERS, SINCE BECOMING LAW IN 1969, THE COAL ACT HAS IMPROVED WORKING CONDITIONS, REDUCED FATALITIES AND ADDRESSED PRESSING HEALTH CONCERNS, FACED BY MINERS, SUCH AS THE BLACK LUNG DISEASE.
ACCORDING TO HEALTH AND SECURITY OF OUR WORKERS PRESERVES THE LONG‑TERM HEALTH OF OUR CITIZEN, OUR ECONOMY, AND OUR NATION, I THANK THE EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AS MY SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION FOR THEIR DEDICATION TO AMERICA'S WORKERS AS YOU MARK THIS IMPORTANT MILESTONE, I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST.
PRESIDENT BARAK OBAMA.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> IF YOU LOOK BACK THROUGH HISTORY, YOU'LL FIND THAT WHEN THE 1969 MINE ACT WAS ENACTED, THERE WAS A VOICE OF MINERS THAT WAS AS COMPELLING AS ANY TO FORCE A CHANGE IN NIGH SAFETY IN THIS COUNTRY.
MINERS WERE SEEN PROTESTING.
THEY'RE ON THE CAPITOL STEPS, THEY WERE IN THE PRESS, THEY WERE URGING EVERY WAY THEY COULD FOR REFORMS TO TAKE PLACE, TO MAKE THEIR WORKING CONDITIONS BETTER, TO END THE BLACK LUNG.
THEY WERE A GREAT CATALYST IN THE CREATION OF THE 1969 COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT.
AND ONE OF THOSE INSTITUTIONS OF WHICH I FORMERLY BELONGED TO WAS PROBABLY THE MOST NOTED IN THOSE DAYS AND THAT WAS THE UNITED MILE WORKERS OF AMERICA.
THAT REPRESENTED THE NUMBER OF COAL MINERS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.
OUR NEXT SPEAKER IS THE PRESIDENT OF THAT ORGANIZATION THAT HAS LED MANY A MOVEMENT TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH AND SAFETY CONDITIONS IN THE NATION'S MINES.
HE HIMSELFA IS FORMER MINER, SIXTH GENERATION COAL MINER AND HE HAS BEEN A VOICE ON THE PROMOTION AND ADVOCATION OF WORKER HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTECTIONS AND HAS SPENT MOST OF HIS ADULT LIFE PURSUING THAT GOAL.
WITH THAT I WOULD LIKE TO INTRODUCE THE NEXT SPEAKER, CECIL E. ROBERTS OF THE UNITED COAL MINER'S OF AMERICA.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
I'D LIKE TO START OUT BY THANKING PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR A COUPLE OF APPOINTMENTS.
FIRST OF ALL HILDA SOLIS, WHO I THINK IS QUITE FRANKLY ONE OF THE SECRETARIES OF LABOR WE'VE EVER HAD WHO HAS PROVEN THAT SHE CARES ABOUT WORKING PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY.
SHE'S ENFORCING NOT ONLY OSHA, BUT EMSHA, AND PROTECTING THE WORKERS OF THIS COUNTRY AND NO ONE CAN HAVE A MORE IMPORTANT ASSIGNMENT FOR THAT AND I WANT TO THANK THE PRESIDENT FOR THAT.
BUT I ALSO WANT TO THANK THE PRESIDENT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY FOR REACHING OUT TO COAL MINERS AND APPOINTING JOE MAINE THE HEAD OFFICE OF EMSHA, AS ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF LABOR.
JOE, WE'RE PROUD OF YOU.
YOU DEDICATED YOUR ENTIRE LIFE TO THIS AND THE COAL MINERS IN IN COUNTRY ARE BETTER OFF FOR IT.
AND WE SHOULD ALSO CELEBRATE TODAY THAT LAST YEAR WAS THE SAFEST YEAR IN THE HISTORY OF MINING.
18 MINERS LOST THEIR LIVES, THAT'S 18 TOO MANY BUT THAT'S THE BEST YEAR EVER IN THIS INDUSTRY AND FOR THAT WE THANK YOU, JOE.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> I TOO WOULD LIKE TO THANK SENATOR HARKIN AND MURRA, AND SENATOR BIRD FOR THE RESOLUTION TODAY, PLEASE PASS THAT ON TO THEM BUT I'D ALSO LIKE TO THANK THEM FOR THE WAY THEY FOUGHT IN 2006 TO MAKE THE LAWS BETTER FOR THE WORKING MINERS AND PLEASE PASS THAT BACK TO THEM ON BEHALF OF THE COAL MINERS IN IN COUNTRY.
AND ALSO I WOULD LIKE TO SEND OUT ON BEHALF OF CONGRESSMAN MILLER ALSO, BUT THERE IS ONE PERSON I WOULD LIKE TO REMEMBER THAT'S NOT WITH US AND NO ONE FOUGHT HARDER FOR WORKERS IN IN COUNTRY TO MAIN THE MINE SAFER AND WORKERS SAVER AND THAT IS TED KENNEDY WHO IS NO LONGER WITH US.
[ APPLAUSE ]
AND IF I MIGHT, MY DEAR FRIEND SENATOR BIRD WAS SO INSTRUMENTAL IN PASS THANKSGIVING ACT IN 1969, HE HAS SPOKE TONE ME WITH GREAT COMPASS ABOUT COAL MINERS, AND SENATOR BIRD ABOUT A YEAR OR SO AGO WITH THE MEMBERSHIP CARD FOR HIS DAD AND HE WAS SO MOVED BY THAT, AND HE LOOKED ME IN THE EYE AND HE SAID, YOU KNOW I HAVE KNOWN PRESIDENTS AND HE SAID IT THIS WAY, I HAVE KNOWN KINGS AND I HAVE KNOWN QUEENS, HE POINTED TO THAT CAR WITH HIS DAD'S NAME ON IT, THAT IS THE GREATEST MAN I EVER KNEW, A COAL MINER FROM SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA.
JOE MENTIONED THE PASSAGE OF THE HEALTHCARE ACT, THERE'S ONE THING I'VE GOT TO SAY, SENATOR BIRD STILL FIGHTING FOR THE COAL MINERS OUT THERE BECAUSE IN THIS PROVISION TO PASS, THIS HEALTHCARE ACT TO PASS, SENATOR BIRD CORRECTED A TERRIBLE WRONG THAT'S BEEN IN EXISTENCE SINCE 1981, HE INSERT INTO THIS BILL A 15 YEAR PRESUMPTION, IF YOU WORKED IN THE COAL MINES FOR 15 YEARS AND YOU WERE TOTALLY DISABLED DUE TO A LUNG DISEASE, YOU ARE PRESUMED TO HAVE BLACK LUNG AND THE WIDOWS NOW HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY TO RECEIVE THEIR HUSBAND'S BENEFITS.
THANK YOU SENATOR BIRD AGAIN.
30 YEARS OF FIGHTING FOR THE COAL MINERS IN THIS COUNTRY.
[ APPLAUSE ]
AND I KNOW MY FRIEND DANNY CAIN HAS BEEN INTRODUCED AND RECOGNIZE AND I COULDN'T DO ANYTHING WITHOUT DANNY'S HELP AND I THANK DENNIS FOR THE FIGHT HE GOES THROUGH EVERY SINGLE DAY TO MAKE THE MINES AVER BUT THE THANK THE COAL MINERS FOR ENERGIZING THIS NATION.
BECAUSE WITHOUT THEM WE MIGHT BE HERE IN THE DARK, COULDN'T TURN OUR COMPUTERS ON AND LET'S REMEMBER THEM TODAY AS WE GO FORTH FROM THIS PLACE.
WE HAVE A LOT TO CELEBRATE, WE HAVE A LOT TO REMEMBER TOO AND I'D LIKE TO MENTION A FEW OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO WE SHOULD REMEMBER WHO NO LONGER ARE NO LONGER WITH US AND SOME ARE.
WE TALKED ABOUT THE WIDOW'S ORGANIZATION THAT WAS LED BY A LADY NAMED SARAH KEZNOSKY.
SHE'S NO LONGER WITH US BUT WE COMMEMORATE THE FARMINGTON DISASTER EVERY SINGLE YEAR, EVERY YEAR IN NOVEMBER, WE GO THERE, WE DO NOT FORGET.
WE PLEDGE TO THOSE FAMILIES WHEN THEY DIED WE WILL NEVER FORGET WHAT HAPPENED HERE AND WE HAVEN'T.
SO IF YOU EVER WANT A MOVING EXPERIENCE, COME DOWN AND WITH WITH US, I KNOW DAVID WAS THERE THIS PAST YEAR AS WE RECOGNIZED THOSE 78 MINER WHO IS LOST THEIR LIVES IN 1968 AND BY THE WAY, 19 OF WHICH WERE NEVER RECOVERED.
THERE'S 19 OF THOSE MINERS STILL ENTOMBED AND BURIED RIGHT BELOW THE MEMORIAL THAT WAS BUILT TO REMEMBER THIS TERRIBLE TRAGEDY.
BUT SARAH LED THIS WIDOW'S ORGANIZATION, I REMEMBER DR. RASMUSSEN WHO'S WITH US, AND DR. RASMUSSEN AND BUFF, AND DR. WELLS AND THEY STOOD UP AND THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO AND SAID THERE IS A DISEASE CALLED BLACK LUNG AND WE'RE GOING TO TESTIFY ON YOUR BEHALF AND WE'RE GOING TO PLAIN THIS TO YOU AND I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES AND WITHOUT THOSE THREE DOCTORS, I DON'T KNOW THAT WE WOULD EVER HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CONVINCE CONGRESS IT WAS ACTUALLY A DISEASE AND WHAT'S CAUSED BY WORKING IN THE MINES AND WE SHOULD NEVER FORGET THESE LEADERS.
IF YOU DO SOME STATISTICS HERE AND I'M NOT THE BEST AT MATH BUT IF YOU TAKE THE AVERAGE MINERS, EVERY SINGLE YEAR ON AVERAGE, 800 SOMETHING MINERS ARE KILLED BEFORE THE PASSAGE OF THE ACT, AFTER THE PASSAGE OF THE ACT THAT NUMBER DROPPED DOWN TO ABOUT 80 SOMETHING ON AVERAGE, IF YOU LOOK AT WHAT THIS ACT HAS DONE, THAT'S 32,000 MINERS PLUS THAT WERE KILLED IN THE YEARS BEFORE THE PASSAGE OF THE FACT, AND THE 3200 AFTER THE PASSAGE OF THAT ACT, GOOD LAWS AND GOOD ENFORCEMENT WORK.
AND WE SHOULD NEVER FORGET THAT AND WE SUPPORT THE EFFORTS OF JOE MAIN AND HIS TEAM TO PROTECT THE COAL MINE ORS IN THIS COUNTRY.
BUT THE REAL HEROES HERE, ARE NO LONGER WITH US AND WITHOUT THE SACRIFICES AND THE FACT THAT THESE 70 SOMETHING MINERS DIED IN FARMINGTON IN 1968, WE WOULD HAVE NEVER PASSED THIS ACT.
NEVER, BECAUSE FOR THE FIRST TIME PEOPLE IN CALIFORNIA AND PEOPLE OF NEW YORK AND PEOPLE AND FLORIDA WHERE THERE IS NO COAL MINING HAD TO WATCH ON THEIR TELEVISION, HAS THIS MINE EXPLODED OVER AND OVER AGAIN AND PEOPLE IN CALIFORNIA SAID WHAT'S GOING ON IN THESE COAL FIELDS, WHY IS THIS HAPPENING, THEY STARTED CALLING THEIR CONGRESS MEN, AND THEIR SENATOR AND ALL OF THE STATES IN IN COUNTRY, AND THEY SAID, SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE TO PROTECT THE COAL MINER'S IN THIS NATION AND CONGRESS ACTED AND WHAT I SAY EVERY SINGLE YEAR, YOU KNOW IT DOES FRUSTRATE THOSE OF US WHO ARE ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF FIGHTING FOR COAL MINERS, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE NEWS REPORTS AND SAID COAL MINER GOT KILLED TODAY DOWN IN KENTUCKY OR COAL MINER WAS KILLED IN VIRGINIA, THESE MINERS ARE REAL PEOPLE.
THEY ARE HUSBANDS, THEY'RE FATHERS, BROTHERS, SISTERS AND THEY'RE ACTIVE IN THEIR COMMUNITIES AND THEIR MINISTERS, LAY PREACHERS LITTLE LEAGUE COACHES, THEY'RE IN THE PTA, THESE MINER WHO IS DIED IN FARMINGTON TO ME ARE HEROES BECAUSE I THINK THEY SAVE 30 SOMETHING THOUSAND PEOPLE'S LIVES BY THE SACRIFICE THAT THEY MAKE AND I'D LIKE TO MENTION JUST ONE PERSON HERE TODAY, MY DEAR FRIEND CARLOW, WHO'S GOING TO SPEAK HERE MOMENTARILY, CARLOW WAS A YOUNG MAN IN THE MILITARY WHEN HIS BROTHER DIED IN FARMINGTON.
HE CAME BACK FROM THE MILITARY AND HE ACTUALLY WENT IN THERE AND IT TOOK 10 YEARS, 10 YEARS TO RECOVER THE BODIES THAT WERE RECOVERED AND HE HELPED GET HIS BROTHER OUT OF THAT MINE, DEWY, AND HE'S ONE OF THE MOST COURAGEOUS PEOPLE I KNOW.
THERE'S A LOT OF STORIES LIKE THIS.
WHEN WE GO TO FARMINGTON, IINOID WE STARTED OUT 25, 30 YEARS AGO WITH THE WIDOWS, MANY OF THE WIDOWS ARE GONE, NOW WE'RE SEEING THE KIDS MY AGE JUST ABOUT COMING NOW AND SEE THE GRANDKIDS COMING BECAUSE THESE PEOPLE IN THESE COMMUNITIES DO NOT WANT TO FORGET THESE HEROS THAT PASSED AWAY.
THANK AND YOU GOT BLESS ALL OF YOU.
>> YOU KNOW THE 69 MINE ACT IS A STORY ABOUT MINERS, IT'S A STORY ABOUT MINERS FAMILIES, IT'S ABOUT THE MINING COMMUNITY AND IT'S A STORY ABOUT HOW MUCH THING VS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS.
AND IF YOU LOOK AT HOW THAT PROGRESS WAS MADE, THE 1969 MINE ACT WAS A TREMENDOUS FORCE IN CHANGING THE LANDSCAPE, BUT THE MINING INDUSTRY HAS BEEN AN INDUSTRY THAT IF YOU LOOK AT IT TODAY, COMPARED TO 1969, A FAR DIFFERENT INDUSTRY.
IT'S A AN INDUSTRY THAT'S ADVANCED TO A POINT OF‑‑IN DIFFERENT CIRCLES BEING SEEN AS A LEADER IN TERMS OF MINE, HEALTH AND SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS.
THE NATIONAL MINING ASSOCIATION, I THINK HAS BEEN AN ORGANIZATION THAT HAS BEEN THE VOICE OF THE INDUSTRY TO HELP LEAD THE INDUSTRY IN THAT DIRECTION AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS PARTICULARLY SINCE THE NEW MINER ACT WENT INTO EFFECT AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE RECORD TODAY AND THE MINING INDUSTRY, IT WILL TAKE EVERY EFFORT TO KEEP THAT RECORD GOING THE DIRECTION THAT IT IS, THERE HAVE BEEN MONUMENTAL GAINS SINCE THE 2000 MINER ACT WENT INTO EFFECT.
AS PRESIDENT ROBERTS JUST POINTED OUT THERE HAS BEEN A GREAT REDUCTION IN MINING DEATHS IN THIS COUNTRY AND NOT ONLY ON THE COAL SIDE BUT ON THE METAL ON METAL SIDE AS L. IT'S MY VIEW THAT WORKING TOGETHER AS AN INDUSTRY, WITH ALL THE STAKEHOLDERS AND WE KEEP THE ONLY THINGS WE DID RIGHT AND IMPROVING ON THOSE THAT WE REFLECT BACK THE NEXT FIVE OR 10 YEARS WE'LL HAVE A MUCH BETTER INDUSTRY.
AND I WOULD LIKE TO INTRODUCE THE NEXT SPEAKER FOR THE NATIONAL MINING ASSOCIATION, BRUCE WATTS, MAN WHO HAS BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN BRINGING THE INDUSTRY IN A POSITIVE DIRECTION IN THIS COUNTRY TO HELP SHARE IN THE RECORD WE HAVE TODAY.
BRUCE?
>> THANKS, JOE, IT'S A PLEASURE TO BE HERE WITH YOU AND I APPRECIATE THE INVITATION TO SPEND THIS TIME WITH YOU ON THIS IMPORTANT ANNIVERSARY.
AND IT'S A PRIVILEGE TO SHARE THIS WITH ALL OF YOU AND I WELCOME THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE HERE WITH MY FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE CECIL ROBERTS, IT SEEMS TO BE CUSTOMARY OF LATE THAT I SPEAK AFTER CECIL AND IT'S BOTH A CHALLENGE AND A PRIVILEGE AND I'LL GO AT IT AGAIN.
WHEN WE TYPICALLY COMMEMORATE THE ANNIVERSARY OF AN IMPORTANT EVENT, WE DO SO NOT JUST TO RECALL THE SIGNIFICANCE BUT ALSO TO REFLECT ON WHAT WE'VE LEARNED IN THE INTERVENING YEARS.
WHEN WE COMMEMORATE AN IMPORTANT BATTLE, IT'S NOT ONLY TO MEMORIALIZE THE VALIANT SACRIFICES MADE BUT ALSO TO REMIND OURSELVES, THE WAR IS TERRIBLE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF AVOIDING IT.
WELL, SO TOO IS IT WITH THIS ANNIVERSARY.
THOSE OF US KNOW TODAY THAT MINING ACCIDENTS IS A TERM USED BY REPORTERS AND STATISTICIANS BUT MINING TRAGEDIES ARE THE WORDS USED BY THOSE IN THE MINING COMMUNITIES.
THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO FEEL THE HEAVY TOLL AND THE SACRIFICE OF SERIOUS MINING INJURIES AND FATALITIES.
WE THAN BEHIND EVERY LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS WHO IMPROVE MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH, HAS BEEN A TRAGEDY THAT'S GAL VANNIZED THE INDUSTRY, THE UNIONS, THE REGULATORS AND THE LEGISLATORS TO COMMIT THEMSELVES TO GREATER SAFETY MEASURES, THESE EVENTS PROVOKE US TO EXPLORE NEW WAYS TO IMPROVE SAFETY AND HEALTH FOR THOSE WORKING IN THE MINES.
SO IT WAS FOUR DECADES AGO WITH THE PASSAGE OF THE FEDERAL HEALTH AND COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT OF 1969, THE LAW MARKED A HISTORIC TRANSITION TO FEDERAL STANDARDS THAT REPLACED THE PATCH WORK OF STATUTES THAT EXISTED ACROSS THE STATES.
IT MARKED THE FIRST TIME THAT CONGRESS RECOGNIZED BOTH THE IMPORTANCE OF SAFETY AND HEALTH OF OUR NATION'S COAL MINERS.
A RECENT ARTICLE BY A RETIRED MINING RESEARCHER STATED QUOTE, THE 1969 COAL ACT WAS MORE COMPREHENSIVE AND MORE STRINGENT THAN ANY PREVIOUS LEGISLATION AFFECTS THE MINING INDUSTRY AND ITS IMPACT ON THE INDUSTRY WAS MAJOR, END OF QUOTE.
NO TRUER WORDS COULD BE SPOKEN THE THE MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION AND PREDECESSOR ORGANIZATION, THE MINING ENFORCEMENT AND SAFETY ADMINISTRATION WERE SIGNED RESPONSIBILITY TO ADMINISTER THE COAL ACT AND SUCCESSOR ACTS.
UNQUESTIONABLY, THEIR ROLE IN ADVANCING MINER SAFETY AND HEALTH HAS BEEN SIGNIFICANT.
BUT THE SINGLE MOST SIGNIFICANT FACTOR IN IMPROVING HEALTH AND SAFETY AND THE MINES ACROSS THE COUNTRY HAS BEEN THE ROLE OF MINERS AND MINE OPERATORS WHO ENGAGE ON A DAILY BASES TO IDENTIFY AND REMEDY POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS.
FURTHER EFFORTS TO FOSTER CONTINUED IMPROVEMENT IN EXCELLENCE IN THE U.S. MINING INDUSTRY, WILL REQUIRE US TO ADAPT IMAGINE NATIVE PROGRAMS THAT DEMONSTRATE NEW APPROACHES.
TELL REQUIRE US TO RECOGNIZE THAT NOT ONLY‑‑NOT ALL OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVING SAFETY ARE EQUAL THAT INSPECTION ACTIVITY SHOULD BE CONCENTRATEDOT GREATEST POTENTIAL HAZARDS.
TO REACH OUR GOAL OF ELIMINATING ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES, WE HAVE TO BETTER MANAGE RISKS AND SHARE BEST PRACTICES.
TO ELEVATE AWARENESS OF RISKS, HOWEVER COMMON PLACE AND OBVIOUS THEY MAY BE, NOT ONLY TO THINK ABOUT MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH DIFFERENTLY, BUT TO ACT IN NEW WAYS TO PROTECT THE NATION'S MINERS, SO AS WE COMMEMORATE THE COMMITMENT TO BETTER MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH MADE 40 YEARS AGO, LET'S ASK OURSELVES WHAT WE'VE LEARNED SINCE THEN, AND I THINK WE CAN ALL AGREE ON SEVERAL THINGS.
WE'VE LEARNED TO BE SUSPICION OF ONE YEAR SAFETY RECORDS TO GUARD AGAINST THE RECORDS MAY ENCOURAGE AND TO NOT BE CONTENT WITH TWO SUCCESSFUL YEARS OF IMPROVEMENT AND NOR WITH THE FACT THAT 86% OF OUR MINES OPERATE WITHOUT A LOSS TIME ACCIDENT.
WE'VE ALL BECOME IMPATIENT WITH INCREMENTAL IMPROVEMENTS AND DISTRUSTFUL OF ANNUAL ACHIEVEMENTS.
NOW MORE THAN EVER WE WANT TO CLOSE THE GAP BETWEEN REALITY AND EXPECTATION.
THE REALITY TODAY IS BETTER THAN EVER, BUT OUR EXPECTITION MUST BE HIGHER THAN EVER.
ON BEHALF OF THE MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL MINING ASSOCIATION, THANK YOU JOE FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE HERE AND THANK YOU FOR INVITING ME PERSONALLY.
THANK YOU ALL.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> AS WE REFLECT BACK ON THE CREATION OF THE MINE ACT, THERE WAS A STARTING POINT THAT WE'VE ALL TALKED ABOUT AND THAT WAS THE FARMINGTON MINE DISASTER IN NOVEMBER OF 1968, I REMEMBER WHERE I WAS AT WHEN THAT DISASTER, WHEN WORD CAME OUT OF MINERS TRAPPED OR MISSING AT THE FARMINGTON NUMBER NINE MINE AND I THINK FOLK WHO IS LIVED IN THAT AREA, REMEMBER THAT AS WELL, AND BEFORE LONG, PEOPLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY UNDERSTOOD THAT AS TELEVISION WHICH WAS THE NEW AGE OF MEDIUM, WAS BROADCASTING THE NEWS AT THE DINNER TABLE AND EVENINGS AND THAT WAS HARDOT MINERS, IT WAS HARDOT MINERS FAMILIES AND HARDOT MINING COMMUNITIES AROUND THE COUNTRY.
BUT OUT OF THAT TRAGEDY CAME A NEW LAW AND AS WE REFLECT BACK AND HEAR FROM A VOICE BACK IN 1968 IN NOVEMBER AND THAT TRAGEDY.
AND WITH THAT, I'D LIKE TO INTRODUCE I WOULD LIKE TO INTRODUCE MR. HARLEY WHO IS THE SECRETARY MEASURER OF THE EMERITUS OF UNIT MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA WHO HAS SPENT MUCH OF HIS LIFE PURSUING THE GOAL IMPROVING HEALTH AND SAFETY CONDITIONS THAT MINERS HAVE WORKED IN.
HE HAS ANOTHER STORY.
HE WASOT RESCUE TEAM IN FARMINGTON AND HIS BROTHER WAS ONE OF THE VICTIMS.
WITH THAT I WOULD LIKE TO INTRODUCE HARLEY TARLY.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> GOOD AFTERNOON!
>> JOE ASKED ME TO ATTEND THIS EVENT TO SHARE WITH YOU SOME OF MY EXPERIENCES BEFORE AND AFTER THE 1969 COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT WAS PASSED.
I GREW UP IN A TIME WHEN THE WELFARE OF A MINER OR FAMILIES COMPANIES HAD VERY LITTLE REGARD.
I WAS BORN IN A SMALL COAL CAMP IN WEST VIRGINIA.
WHAT LITTLE MEDICAL NEEDS WE RECEIVED WAS FROM THE COMPANY DOCTOR, WHAT LITTLE SHOPPING WE DID WAS AT THE COMPANY STORE AND OF COURSE WE LIVE INDEED A COMPANY HOUSE.
IT WAS MORE IMPORTANT TO US, IT WAS SUPERINTENDENT OF THAT MINE THAN WHO WAS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, WHO WAS GOVERNOR OF STATE BECAUSE THE SUPERINTEND END WITH THE NAP‑‑SNAP OF A FINGER COULD TAKE YOUR JOB AND KICK A FAMILY OUT OF THEIR HOUSE.
MY FATHER DIED AT 1950 AT A VERY EARLY AGE AND HE LEFT MY MOTHER WITH 10 CHILDREN, 16‑TWO, SOMEHOW SHE KEPT US TOGETHER.
THERE WERE THREE SISTERS AND SEVEN BROTHERS.
SIX OF THE BROTHERS AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER ENTER THE COAL INDUSTRY AND AS WAS SAID EARLIER, IN 1968, DEWY LOST HIS LIFE AT FARMINGTON NUMBER NINE MINE.
I WAS IN FORT KNOX KENTUCKY IN THE UNITED STATES ARMY AND I WAS QUICKLY TRANSPORTED BACK HOME TO THE MINE SITE AND THOSE ARE SOME GOD AWFUL DAYS.
WE STOOD VIGILE FOR NINE DAYS HOPING THAT SOME SORT OF MIRACLE WOULD HAPPEN THAT HE WOULD COME STROLLING OUT OF THAT MINE.
AND ONE DAY THEY CALLED THE FAMILIES TO A SMALL CHURCH NEXT TO THE MINES AND THEY SAID A DECISION HAS BEEN MADE TO SEAL THE MINES.
BOY, I GOTTA TELL YOU I WAS VERY ANGRY AND I WAS ANGRY AT MY BROTHERS BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T SUPPORT ME BUT THEY TOOK ME ASIDE AND THEY EXPLAINED TO ME THAT THEY'RE SEASONED MINERS THAT YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT A MINES HAD CONTINUOUSLY HAS EXPLOSIONS MORE THAN 12, MORE VIOLENT THAN THE FIRST AND THE FIRE THAT'S OUT OF CONTROL UNDERWAY AND NO WAY TO FIGHT IT AND IN FACT, THEY KNEW THAT IF THOSE MINERS HADN'T REACHED AN AIR SHAFT WITHIN AN HOUR OR TWO, THERE WAS NO HOPE.
THEY KNEW SOMETHING THAT TOOK ME NINE DAYS TO FIND OUT WHEN THEY SEALED THE MINES, THEY THROUGH THERE WAS NO HOPE SHORTLY AFTER THE MINES HAD CAUGHT ON FIRE.
WELL, THAT WAS THAT.
AND WE WERE SUPPOSED TO MOVE ON, MINES BLOW UP, PEOPLE GET KILLED, SEEN IT BEFORE, IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN.
MATTER OF THE FACT, PRESIDENT OF THE UNION THEN, TONY BOIL TOLD THE PRESS THAT UNFORTUNATELY GIVEN THE INHERENT DANGERS OF A COAL MINES WE HAVE TO BRACE OURSELVES BECAUSE MORE THAN LIKELY IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN.
BUT THERE WAS WAS TWO THINGS DIFFERENT, PRESIDENT ROBERTS REMARK ABOUT ONE, THAT WAS, TELEVISION, AND SECOND WAS SARAH KOZNOSKY, KNOW HER, LOVED HER, SHE HAD THE PEN OF PRESIDENT NIXON WHEN SHE SIGNED INTO LAW.
SHE DECIDED ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH AND THAT MINERS SHOULD HAVE EXPECTATION TO LEAVE WORK AND COME HOME THE NEXT DAY.
AND SHE URGED THE MINERS AND THE MINERS URGED THE UNION AND THE WITH SARAH LEADING THE WAY AND THE MINERS AND UNIONS AND GOOD FRIENDS IN CONGRESS, WE FINALLY GOT MEANINGFUL LEGISLATION.
THEY HAD THE DEMISE IN 1971 ALTHOUGH THE ACT HAD BEEN PASSED FOR MORE THAN A YEAR, WE WERE IN THE EARLY STAGES OF IMPLEMENTATION, I'M EMBARRASSED TO TELL YOU THIS, BUT THE MINERS RESISTED IT ALMOST AS MUCH AS THE COMPANY BUT FOR DIFFERENT REASONS.
THE COMPANIES WERE CONVINCED IF YOU MINE COAL SAFELY YOU COULDN'T MAKE MONEY AND FOR THE MINERS THERE WAS TWO REASONS, ONE, THERE WAS THE LAZY SIDE OF US, REFER TO THAT AS LAZINESS OVERCOMEETH FEAR, DO THINGS SAFELY REQUIRES TO YOU DO MORE WORK, FOR INSTANCE IF YOU HAVE UNSUPPORTED TOP, IF YOU WALK UNDERNEATH THAT, YOU WILL GET THE BOLT MACHINE AND YOU SECURE THAT ROOF.
THERE WAS ANOTHER GROUP, THE THE MINERS BACK IN THE DAY, THOUGHT THEY WERE TOUGH AND THEY WERE.
IF YOU WERE A GOOD WORKER, AND YOU WOULD TAKE CHANCES AND YOU GET THE JOB DONE QUICKER, THE FOREMAN AND EVEN THE FELLOW WORKERS WOULD ADMIRE THEM BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE TOUGH.
TO GET YOU A LITTLE PICTURE OF WHAT WAS GOING ON AT THAT TIME.
I WAS IN A MINE FOR SEVEN WEEKS AND HAD BEEN ON A MINING OPERATOR JOB AND GOT IT.
FOR THOSE THAT ARE MINERS HERE, AT THAT TIME, WAS A MOST DANGEROUS JOB IN THE MINES AND YOU HAVE A YOUNG PUNK WITH LEAVER FEVER THAT GOT THAT JOB.
NOW, I DIDN'T MAKE THE MINER GO, WORK THE LEAVERS MAKER IT MOVE AND CUT COAL BUT I HAD NO IDEA WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR AS FAR AS THE ROOF'S CONCERNS OR RIBS CONCERNED, I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO CHECK FOR GAS OR KNOW WHAT THE DANGEROUS LEVELS OF GAS WERE, I TELL YOU HOW CRAZY THIS IS, I WASN'T ALLOWED TO CARRY A FLAME SAFETY LAB BUT I COULD WORK MACHINES THAT WERE 30 OR 40‑TONS.
COULDN'T CHECK FOR GAS, SO WHEN METHANE LEVELS WERE CHECKED IT WAS THE LOADING MACHINE BEHIND ME OR THE BOSS AND I WAS A MINER OPERATOR AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT THOSE LEVELS WERE, DIDN'T CARE, THEY TOLD ME WHEN TO CUT, I CUT AND THEY TOLD ME WHEN TO STOP AND I STOP N. ADDITION TO THAT, THE LAW WERE SO RELAXED THEY ABLE TO GET A MINE RESCUE TEAM BEFORE I COMPLETED BY SIX MONTHS.
THAT WAS PROBABLY THE MOST DANGEROUS JOB ISN'T COUNTRY BECAUSE YOU WORK ON AN APPARATUS BECAUSE THE ATMOSHPHERE WON'T SUSTAIN LIFE AND SOMETHING HAPPENS TO THAT, SO ENDS YOUR LIFE.
FORMINATELY WE DIDN'T LOSE ANYBODY TO MY KNOWLEDGE BECAUSE OF FAILURE OF THE MACHINE.
BUT I WAS GRATEFUL BECAUSE IT GAVE ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO GO TO NUMBER NINE AND HAD SOMEWAY HELP RECOVER THOSE BOTTLES AND PLAY A ROLE IN DEWY'S RECOVERY AND ALSO MY HOLDEST BROTHER JOE WHO WORK INDEED THE FOUR STATES MINE HAD BEEN WORKING AT THE NUMBER NINE MINE ON RECOVERY AND WHEN THE ATMOSPHERE WOULDN'T SUSTAIN LIFE OR WHEN YOU NEEDED TO WORK WITHOUT POWER, WITH SPECIAL TOOLS WHEN THE MINES HAD EXPLOSIVE‑‑HAD METHANE LEVELS OF EXPLOSIVE RANGES AND THEN THE FRESH AIR PEOPLE WOULD GO IN.
SO ON AND OFF FOR THE NEXT THREE YEARS I WORKED THOSE AND I WORKED AT NUMBER NINE AND FINALLY WE GOT DEWY OUT.
I WAS GRATEFUL, IT GAVE US CLOSURE, LIKE CECIL SAID, 19 OTHER FAMILIES DIDN'T GET THAT AND YOU HAVE TO EXPERIENCE THAT TO REALLY UNDERSTAND IT.
UNTIL THEY BRING THAT BODY OUT AND THEY HAVE THAT, YOU HAVE DREAMS THAT THEY'RE OUT THERE THAT THEY'RE GOING TO COME HOME OR SETTINGOT COACH AND ENDING THE NIGHTMARES BUT WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THE COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT.
IT'S PLANNING AND MY ANGER GOT TORCHED AGAIN.
DURING THOSE AND HIS CREW WERE NOT CLOSE TO THE CENTER OF THAT EXPLOSION, THEY WERE FAR REMOVED.
IN FACT, THEY HAD MOVED 2000 FEET, HEADED FOR A NEARBY SHAFT WHERE THEY POURED OUT A NUMBER OF MINERS IN A BUCKET BUT THEY FELL OVER DEAD, NOT BECAUSE OF FIRE, NOT BECAUSE OF EXPLOSION, BECAUSE THE ATMOSPHERE WOULDN'T SUSTAIN LIFE.
HAD THEY HAD THE SAME DEVICES THAT MINERS HAVE NOW, THE SELFCONTAIN BREATHING APPARATUSESS THEY WOULD WALKED OUT OF THAT MINE UNHURT.
THAT'S WHAT THE ACT DID, THAT'S WHAT REGULATIONS DO FOR YOU.
NOW, THE MINE ACT AND OTHER LEGISLATION HAVE MADE MINING A THOUSAND TIMES SAFER AS IT SHOULD BE AND THERE ARE THOSE WHO SAID, WELL, IT'S TIME TO BACK OFF A LITTLE BIT.
LET'S MOVE AWAY FROM ENFORCEMENT AND MORE TO EDUCATION, I KNOW THE MINE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT, NOT TOO LONG AGO BUT WE HAVE TO HAVE ENFORCEMENT AND WE HAVE TO HAVE EDUCATION, BECAUSE THE SAME FUELS THAT BLUE UP NUMBER NINE ARE DOWN HERE TODAY, FLOATING US AND METHANE AT HIGHER LEVELS THAN IT WAS IN 1968 DUE TO THE INCREASED PRODUCTION.
BUT WE KNOW HOW TO TAKE CARE OF IT AND WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE PEOPLE THAT WERE ENFORCE THOSE WHO DON'T WANT TO TAKE CARE OF IT.
AND I WILL GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE, PEOPLE CHOOSE, I DON'T CARE WHOA YOU ARE, YOU CAN BE UNION, GOVERNMENT, SCHOOL TEACHER, FOR WHATEVER REASON SOME PEOPLE LIKE TO CHEAT AND IN 2001, JIM WALTER'S MINE BLEW UP AND KILLED 14 PEOPLE.
AND ON INVESTIGATION FOUND MOUNDS OF COAL DUST INADEQUATE ROCK DUST AND BAD VENTILATION.
BOTH FEDERAL AGENCIES AND THE COMPANY KNEW.
THAT'S WHY WE NEED ENFORCEMENT AND JUST RECENTLY TWO WEEKS AGO, A HUGE MINE CLOSE TO MY HOME WAS SHUT DOWN FOR A WEEK BECAUSE OF EXPLOSIVE LEVELS OF GAS AND DURING THE INVESTIGATION A FOREMAN CONFESSED TO FINDING EXPLOSIVE RANGES OF GASES 19 TIMES FROM OCTOBER TO FEBRUARY AND AT ONE TIME DIDN'T EVEN MAKE THE TEST.
AND THANK GOD THAT WE DIDN'T REVISIT NUMBER NINE BECAUSE THAT'S A HUGE MINE THAT'S IN THE SAME VAIN AND ALL THE INGREDIENTS WERE THERE.
SO, WE CAN STAY HERE TODAY AS WE SHOULD AND CELEBRATE AND BE PROUD OF A FINE JOB, BUT WHAT I WOULD ASK YOU TO DO IS CARRY ON SARAH'S CAUSE AND AS WE LEAVE HERE TODAY, BE EVEN MORE COMMITTED THAT NO MINER EVER DIE AGAIN BECAUSE OF GOVERNMENT NEGLECT OR CORPORATE GREED.
THANK YOU.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> ONE OF THE GOALS OF THE 1969 MINE ACT WAS TO END THE SUFFERING PAIN OF FAMILIES OF MINERS AND I THINK THE FOLKS WHO LIVE THROUGH 1968 DISASTER IN FARMINGTON JUST HAD A HORRIBLE TIME AND AS I POINTED OUT AT DIFFERENT TIMES, IN SPEAKING THAT I DO, WHILE SOME OF US WERE AROUND THROUGH THE HELPED THROUGH THE MINE RESCUE, THROUGH THE RECOVERY WORK, WE FORGET ABOUT THOSE EVERY TIME.
THE FAMILIES NEVER DO, THOSE ARE SCARS THAT ARE LEFT WITH THEM FOREVER.
TWO OF THE MORE DIFFICULT MINE EXPLOSIONS THAT I HAD TO  DEAL WITH IN MY LIFE WAS THE THE MINE WHERE WE LOST 27 MINERS IN 1984 AS THEY WERE TRAPPED BY A FAIR AND AFTER FIVE DAYS WE HAD TO GIVE UP THE EFFORT OF THE RESCUE AND HAD TO SEAL THE MINE AND IT TOOK ALMOST A YEAR TO RECOVER THE BODIES OF THOSE MINERS, ALMOST A YEAR AND THAT THE JIM MOLDER'S MINE DISASTER THAT WAS RECENTLY ADDRESSED BY COAL TARLY, WE HAD ABANDON MINE RESCUE EFFORTS AND IT'S THE HARDEST THING TO LOOK THOSE FAMILIES IN THE EYE AND SAY WE CAN'T DO THIS AND TELL THEM THAT THEIR FAMILIES ARE GONE.
THE MINE ACT SOUGHT TO END THOSE THINGS AND AS THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF LABOR I CAN GUARANTEE THOSE THINGS ARE BURNT INTO MY MIND THAT EVERY DAY, THEY THINK ABOUT THAT AND I KNOW WHAT MY JOB IS TO PREVENT IN THIS COUNTRY.
AND I PLEDGE TO DO THAT.
AS WE MOVE ON IN THE PROGRAM, WE DO HAVE A SPECIAL GUEST, A SPECIAL SPEAKER WHO MADE IT ALL THE WAY FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BACK TO HER HOME HERE AT THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, AND IT IS OUR SECRETARY OF LABOR HILDA SOLIS, AND I AM SO BLESSED TO HAVE AS A PERSON TO REPORT TO IN THIS GOVERNMENT AND MORE IMPORTANT, THE FOLKS OF THIS COUNTRY BLESSED TO HAVE A SECRETARY, AS SECRETARY SOLIS AND I THINK THAT PERSONALLY.
I WILL TELL THE STORY OF ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS THAT THE SECRETARY HAD TO DO AFTER SHE WAS SWORN IN AND WAS TRYING FIGURE OUT HOW SHE'S GOING TO RUN THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR WAS SHE HAD MINERS TRAPPED IN WEST VIRGINIA AND IT WAS AN INCIDENT WHERE FLOODING HAD BLOCKED ESCAPE OF THE MINERS OUT OF THE MINE AND THE SECRETARY BECAME VERY, VERY WRAPPED UP WITH THAT VERY QUICKLY AND BEFORE MUCH TIME PASSED SHE WAS ON THE PHONE TO THE FAMILIES OF THOSE TRAPPED MINERS IT'S JUST GREAT TO HAVE A SECRETARY OF LABOR THAT THINKS ABOUT THOSE THINGS AND THE IMPACT AND THE THINGS THAT THE FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE TO GO THROUGH.
SO WITHOUT MUCH FURTHER ADIEU, I WOULD LIKE TO INTRODUCE TO YOU ALL OUR GREAT SECRETARY OF LABOR HILDA SOLIS STRAIGHT FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> THANK YOU.
>> THANK YOU, ACTUALLY I WAS AT THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR, THE PRESIDENT JUST GAVE A BRIEF REMARKS TALKING ABOUT ANOTHER MAJOR PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT JUST GOT ENACTED TODAY AND THAT'S THE HEALTHCARE REFORM.
THANK ALL OF YOU FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT HELPED US IN THIS GREAT EFFORT, YOU KNOW THE PRESIDENT, SO MANY OF US ARE SO PROUD, HEALTH AND SAFETY ARE NUMBER ONE.
AND HE GETS I GET IT, JOE MAINE GET ITS AND A LOT OF FOLKS IN THE ROOM DO.
I DON'T NEED TO GO ON ABOUT THAT.
JAY HAD DONE SO MANY THINGS FOR FOUR YEARS HE'S BEEN A COAL MINER AND WORKED MANY, MANY, YEAR THERE IS, HELPING TO REPRESENT THE SAFETY NEEDS OF MINERS AND NOW, HE'S HERE WITH US AND I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW PROUD I AM TO HAVE HIM.
GIVE HIM A ROUND OF APPLAUSE, PLEASE?
I LIKE THEM LIKE THAT.
HE'S A GREAT, GREAT, INDIVIDUAL, HE'S ALREADY ON THE MOVE TRYING TO GET THINGS GOING BECAUSE THINGS HAVE BEEN DORMANT FOR TOO MANY YEARS HERE IN THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.
HE EVEN GOT ME OUT TO A MINE, I THINK LAST YEAR, I WASN'T EVEN HERE FOUR MONTHS AND HE SAID, HILDA, WELL THE FOLKS SAID, COME ON LET'S GO OUT THERE AND I WENT OUT WITH CECIL AND I THOUGHT, I HAD BEEN ON PICKET LINES, I HAD BEEN OUT THERE HELPING FOLKS IN NEED, HELP IN DIFFERENT WAYS BUT HINEVER BEEN IN A COAL MINE AND I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT WAS QUITE AN EXPERIENCE FOR ME, THE DEDICATION ON THE GROUND INDEED THE MINE OR ALL THE THINGS THAT GO ON TO HELP PROVIDE PROTECTION AND SAFETY FOR FOLKS GAVE ME A GREAT, GREAT, DEAL OF UNDERSTANDING AND RESPECT FOR THE FAMILIES, FOR THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN THOSE AREAS THAT DEPEND ON THAT LIFESTYLE, VERY, VERY, IMPORTANT AND I LEARNED A GREAT DEAL.
A LOST POLITICIANS CAME UP THAT DAY TO BE AROUND, BUT THEY DIDN'T GO DOWN IN THE MINE NECESSARILY WITH US.
BUT THAT'S OKAY BUT IT TAUGHT ME A GREAT DEAL OF RESPECT AND INFORMATION THAT I NEEDED TO HAVE, BECAUSE WHERE I AM CAN FROM, CALIFORNIA WE HAVE DIFFERENT MINES WE HAVE GRAVEL PITS, THEY DO MINING, GRAVEL AND SAND WHICH IS A WHOLE OTHER AREA BUT ONE THAT I KNOW WE'RE GOING TO TACKLE, RIGHT JOE?
THAT'S ANOTHER ONE WE'RE GOING TO WORK ON.
BUT WE'RE HERE TODAY TO CELEBRATE THE FEDERAL MINE AND HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT OF 1969.
AND I KNOW I WAS A WE CHILD WHEN THAT WAS PASSED, BUT NEVERTHELESS, VERY IMPORTANT MILESTONE IN OUR HEISTRY.
‑‑HISTORY AND THERE'S ONE MISSING COMPONENT I WANT TO SAY IN MY OPINION, THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE, THE LAW WAS THAT PASSED ON THE HEELS OF THE HORRIFIC MINE EXPLOSION IN WEST VIRGINIA THAT KILLED 78 MINERS TO BE HONEST, THE REAL DRIVING FORCE ISN'T THE FOLKS THAT WORK HERE IN WASHINGTON, WASN'T THE LOBBYIST, WASN'T NECESSARILY SOME OF THE FOLKS THAT MAYBE ARE HERE IN THIS ROOM, BUT IT WAS THE WIDOWS.
THE WIDOWS OF THE 78 MEN WHO LOST THEIR LIVES.
LET'S GIVE THEM A ROUND OF APPLAUSE EMPLOY.
‑‑APPLAUSE.
[ APPLAUSE ]
THESE BRAVE WOMEN ASKEDDED FORMER CONGRESS MEN KEN HECKLER TO A MEETING WHERE THEY ASKED TO MAKE SURE THAT THEIR HUSBANDS DID NOT DIE IN VAIN.
THEY CALL FOR SAFER SAFETY REGULATIONS FOR FUTURE COAL MINERS AND WAS ACCOMPLISHED NOT THROUGH THE CONGRESSMAN BUT THEIR VOICES OF THE FAMILIES AND THE WIDOWS.
THESE BRAVE WOMEN TRAVEL TO WASHINGTON ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS TO URGE CONGRESS TO TAKE ACTION AND THEIR TESTIMONY WAS A SPRING BOARD FOR CHANGE.
ONE OF THOSE OUTSPOKEN WOMEN WAS SARAH KOZNOSKY, WHO'S HUSBAND PETE WAS A FIRE BOSS, ON THAT GRATEFUL DAY, PETE AGREED TO FILL IN FOR A FOREMAN WHO HAD BEEN INJURED DAYS EARLIER, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, SARAH SPOKE AT THE EVENT COMMEMORATING THE 25th ANNIVERSARY OF THE COAL MINE ACT.
SADLY SHE PASSED AWAY TWO YEARS AGO, OTHERWISE I'M CERTAIN, POSITIVE THAT SHE WOULDN'T WANT TO MISS THIS DAY TODAY.
I ADMIRE SARAH AND ALL THE WIDOWS OF FARMINGTON AND I APPLAUD AND I SALUTE THEM FOR WHAT THEY'RE ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH.
40 YEARS HAVE PASSED, SINCE THE FEDERAL MINE, HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT WENT INTO EFFECT AND IN THOSE 40 YEARS WE'VE SEEN INCREDIBLE CHANGES IN MINE SAFETY AND AGAIN, AS I SAID, I WAS VERY, VERY IMPRESSED BY GOING SEEING FOR MYSELF FIRST HAND WHAT HAPPENS IN AN UNDERGROUND COAL MINE IN WEST VIRGINIA AND I WAS IMPRESSED BY THE EQUIPMENT THEY USED TODAY, THE STATE‑OF‑THE‑ART EQUIPMENT AND ALL THE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES AND SAFETY AND HEALTH PRECAUTIONS THAT HAVE TO BE MADE AND PUT IN PLACE.
THIS YEAR THE ACT WAS FINED, AND MORE THAN 200 COAL MINER LEFT THEIR‑‑I'M SORRY, THE YEAR THE ACT WAS SIGNED WE HAD LOST 200 COAL MINERS UP TO THIS POINT.
LAST YEAR THE NUMBER HAD DROPPED TO 18.
THE LOWEST NUMBER OF COAL MINE DEATHS SINCE THE GOVERNMENT FIRST BEGAN KEEPING RECORDS.
THAT'S INCREDIBLE.
BUT IT'S STILL NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
WHILE WE APPLAUD SUCH ACHIEFMENT WE HAVE TO KEEP WORKING HARDER.
NO MINER, NO WORKERS IN ANY OCCUPATION SHOULD EVER HAVE TO LOSE THEIR LIFE IN ORDER TO PROVIDE FOR THEIR FAMILIES.
IF THEY WALK INTO THAT COAL MINE, SHEA SHOULD BE ABLE TO COME OUT IN THE EVENING OR IN THE WE HOURS OF THE MORNING.
AND I LOOK AT WHAT I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO HERE, JUST A YEAR AGO, I VOWED TO FOLLOW THROUGH WITH WHAT PRESIDENT OBAMA'S MISSION WAS TO HELP CREATE NEW JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL AMERICAN FAMILIES AND INSURE THAT WORKERS HAVE FAIR, SAFE AND HEALTHY WORKPLACES AND I THAN BECAUSE MY FATHER WORKED FOR MANY YEARS, 25 YEARS IN A BATTERY RECYCLING PLANT SO I KNOW HOW DEADLY DID CAN BE AND HOW UNSAFE AND WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE THE SIDE OF THE LAW AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND OTHER PROTECTION, CAN YOU LOSE YOUR LIFE, YOUR LIMBS, CAN YOU LOSE YOUR FAMILY BECAUSE IF YOU GET SO SICK AND YOU DON'T HAVE HEALTHCARE COVERAGE AND OTHER THINGS, YOU LOSE EVERYTHING.
SO TODAY WE COMMEMORATE THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MINE ACT AND WE ENFORCE THE RIGHTS THAT EVERY WORKING MAN AND WOMEN DESERVES, A SAFE AND HEALTHY WORKING ENVIRONMENT.
I AM SO PLEASED AND BLESSED TO BE HERE WITH YOU AND THE FAMILIES AND THE FOLKS THAT YOU REPRESENT AND THE FORCES, THE VOICES THAT NEED TO CONTINUALLY BE HEARD.
MAY GOD BLESS YOU, GOD BLESS OUR MINERS, FAMILIES AND THE WIDOWS AND SERE ATHANK YOU VERY MUCH.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>> ON A COLD NOVEMBER MORN NOTHING 1968, A TERRIBLE TRAGEDY OCCURRED IN THE HILLS OF WEST VIRGINIA THAT PROFOUNDLY CHANGED THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF MINES FOREVER.
THE NUMBER NINE FARMINGTON SET IN MOTION THE TOLLS OF LIVES TAKEN ON THE MINERS.
THE LIVES WERE SHATTERED, LOST, GRIEF OF FAMILIES, COMMUNITY AND THE NATION, ALL COALESCED INTO A COMMON DETERMINATION TO DO SOMETHING SO TERRIBLE TRAGEDIES WOULD NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.
LIKE MANY OTHER WORKING IN THE MINING INDUSTRY 40 YEAROOSE AGO, I REMEMBER THE DREADFUL DAYS AND THE WORKERS TRYING TO REACH THE MISSING MINERS AFTER THE ECPLOSIONS, CONGRESS TOO, ACTED ON A SENSE OF URGENCY AND OUT OF THIS TRAGEDY THE FEDERAL COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT OF 1969 WAS BORN.
THE FEDERAL COAL MINE AND HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT OF 1969 WAS A WATERSHED MOMENT AND OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH IN THIS NATION.
IT INSTITUTED THE STRONGEST AND MOST COMPREHENSIVE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH PROTECTIONS THAT HAD EVER BEEN ENACTED IN THE U.S.
IN GREATLY INCREASED THE GOVERNMENT'S ENFORCEMENT POWERS AND COAL MINES, BOTHOT GROUND AND SURFACE.
IT ALSO SET THE STANDARD FOR FOUR ANNUAL INSPECTIONS FOR UNDERGROUND MINES INSTITUTED MANDATORY FINES AND ALLOW CRIMINAL PENALTY FOR VIOLATIONS TO THE LAW AND THE 1969 MINE ACT STRENGTHENED THE SAFETY STANDARDS AND ESTABLISHED HEALTH STANDARDS INCLUDING ARINGULATING THE AMOUNT OF COAL DUST AND UNDERGROUND COAL MINES FOR THE FIRST TIME PROVIDED GOVERNMENT BENEFITS FOR MINERS DISABLED BY BLACK LUNG.
FOR TOO LONG COAL MINERS SUFFERED AND DIET FROM THE BLACK LUNG DISEASE, THERE HAVE BEEN EFFORTS TO REDUCE AND ELIMINATE THE DISCOURAGE OF BLACK LUNG.
SOME HAVE BEEN MORE SUCCESSFUL THAN OTHERS, BUT NONE HAVE YET ACCOMPLISHED THE GOAL OF ENDING THE BLACK LUNG DISEASE.
IT IS MY GOAL TO DELIVER ON THE PROMISE OF 1969 COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT TO PREVENT NEW BLACK LUNG CASES AND PREVENT FURTHER PROGRESSION OF BLACK LUNG AMONGST MINERS WHO ALREADY SUFFER AND ON DECEMBER, I ANNOUNCED THE START OF AN INTENSIVE INITIATIVE THAT I BELIEVE WILL ACHIEVE OUR GOAL OF ENDING BLACK LUNG.
IN BLACK LUNG ACT NOW IS A COMPREHENSIVE EFFORT THAT INVOLVES THE ENTIRE COAL MINING COMMUNITY AND INCLUDES EDUCATION AND TRAINING OF MINERS, MINERS REPRESENT THE SUPERVISORS AND OPERATORS AND INVOLVES ENHANCED ENFORCEMENT OF THE COAL DUST STANDARDS AND EFFECTIVE USE OF BETTER DUST CONTROL TECHNOLOGY AND REGULATORY IMPROVEMENTS TO REDUCE MINERS EXPOSURE TO REACH COAL DUST.
WITH THIS TO COMBAT BLACK LUNG WE INTEND TO FULFILL THE PROMISE OF THE COAL MINE ACT THAT THE FIRST PRIORITY AND CONCERN OF ALL IN THE COAL AND MINING INDUSTRY MUST BE THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ITS MOST PRECIOUS RESOURCE, THE MINER.
40 YEARS OF PROGRESS.
AS SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN MINING FOR MORE THAN FOUR DECADES I SEE THE BEST IMPROVEMENTS IN MINING PRACTICES AND ADVANCEMENTS AND TECHNOLOGY THAT HAVE PLAY AID CRITICAL ROLE IN MAKING OUR NATIONS MINES SAFER AND HEALTHIER PLACES TO WORK.
THROUGHOUT THE YEARS WE HAVE MADE PROGRESS.
THERE ARE FEWER FATALITIES, FEWER INJURIES AND FEWER CASES OF OCCUPATIONAL ILLNESSES IN THE MINDS TODAY AS THERE WERE IN 1969.
WE HAVE SEEN STUDY PROGRESS AND THE NUMBERS TELL A STORY IN THE 40 YEARS SINCE THE ENACTMENT OF THE COAL MINE ACT, THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF MINER WHO IS DIED IN COAL MINES, FELL BY 90%.
BUT WE STILL SEE TOO MANY FATALITIES TOO MANY INJURIES AND TOO MANY OCCUPATIONAL ILLNESSES, ONE DEATH AND ONE TOO MANY, THE LOSS OF ONE AFFECTS FAMILIES, FRIENDS, COMMUNITIES COLLEAGUES AND EMPLOYERS.
A DRAMATIC INJURY CAN CHANGE EYE MINER'S LIFE FOREVER AND OCCUPATIONAL ILLNESS AND DO AND DOES DISABLE MINERS, AFFECT THE QUALITY OF LIFE, AND SHORTEN LIFE SPANS.
CAUTIOUS CELEBRATION AND SOLE REMEMBRANCE, I THINK IT'S WHERE WE'RE AT TODAY.
THIS AFTERNOON WE HEARD OF TRAGEDY AND LOSS, OF TRIUMPHS AND MILESTONES AND WE HEARD FIRST HAND ACCOUNTS OF HOW FARMINGTON DISASTER, HOW THE DISASTER AND RESULTING LEGISLATION HAVE MADE A REAL DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF MANY AND HELPED TO TRANSFORM AN INDUSTRY.
SO TODAY AS A MOMENT OF CAUTIOUS CELEBRATION AND SOLEMN REMEMBRANCE 40 YEARS AGO, THE COURSE OF MINES SAFETY AND HEALTH WAS CHANGED FOREVER AND FOR THAT WE CELEBRATE.
THE COAL MINE ACT OF 1969 IS A LANDMARK PIECE OF LEGISLATION WHICH IS LED TO ENORMOUS IMPROVEMENTS IN MINING PRACTICES AND A WAY THAT MINERS ARE PROTECTED.
WE WANT TO BUILD ON THIS SUCCESS AND CONTINUE TO IMPROVE MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH.
WE CAN DO BETTER AND WE WILL.
AND WE WILL REMEMBER, WE WILL REMEMBER THE 78 MINERS AT FORMING TON, THE THOUSANDS OF OTHER MINERS WHO HAVE PERISHED IN MINING ACCIDENTS AND THOSE WHO HAVE DIED SUFFERING DEBILITATING DISEASE AND EFFECTS TO COAL DUST.
THEIR LIVES BRING US TOGETHER IN THIS GREAT HALL TODAY.
IT IS THEIR SACRIFICE AND THE SACRIFICE OF FAMILY, FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES AND COMMUNITIES THAT WILL CONTINUE TO INSPIRE US ALL TO STRIVE FOR SAFER MINES, MORE HEALTHFUL MINING PLACES SO MINER K'S GO TO WORK EVERY DAY CAN COME HOME EVERY DAY SAFE AND HEALTHY THAT. IS OUR GOAL.
‑‑HEALTHY.
THAT IS OUR GOAL.
WE CELEBRATE THE LAW, REJOICE THE RESULTS, MORN THOSE WHO DIED TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE.
IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT OUT OF TRAGEDY COMES TRIUMPH AND THERE WE HAVE MADE TREMENDOUS PROGRESS OVER THE PAST FOUR DECADES, WE'RE NOT QUITE READY TO CLAIM VICTORY IDEA.
HOWEVER, ACHIEVING ZERO FATALITIES IN THE INDUSTRY IS A REAL POSSIBILITY.
WE MUST WORK TOGETHER THAT PRESENT FATALITYS AND INJURIES AND OCCUPATIONAL ILLNESSES IN OUR NATION'S MINES.
I WANT TO THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN FOR TAKING THE TIME TO BE HERE TODAY AND FOR YOUR COMMITMENT SO MY HEALTH AND SAFETY.
I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH ALL OF YOU AS WE MOVE FORWARD TO MAKE GREATER PROGRESS AND I KNOW THAT WE CAN CONTINUE MAKING CHANGES OVER THE NEXT 40 YEARS YOU KNOW WHAT?
MINER'S LIVES DEPEND ON WHAT WE DO AND THAT'S THE MESSAGE WE WANT TO LEAVE WITH YOU TODAY.
I THANK YOU ALL FOR COMING.
I THANK YOU FOR JOINING US IN THE CELEBRATION OF THE MINE ACT.
AND I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH EVERYONE TO BRING ABOUT THE IMPROVEMENTS IN NIGH SAFETY THAT WE ALL KNOW THAT WE CAN DO.
WITH THAT GOD BLESS YOU ALL, AND THANK YOU FOR COMING.
[ APPLAUSE ]