Mining Companies Benefit From Sequester, Don't Have to Pay Fines

One industry that’s benefiting from job cuts from the Sequester is Mining – the won’t have to worry about being slapped with fines because litigation positions are being cut. 

The Labor Department’s Office of the Solicitor says it won’t be able to litigate the backlog of fines due because of severe job cuts.

The Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, which oversees mine safety, has a backlog of $70 million due for health and safety violations by mining companies, reports Huffington Post.

Until now, they’ve been making progress on that backlog thanks to increased funding for government lawyers, but now three offices that are litigating 10,700 mine safety cases (that mining companies are contesting) will either be downsized or shut down. 

Making mining companies pay fines is one of the primary ways the agency enforces safety laws in one of the most dangerous industries. 

Hundreds of miners die from black lung disease every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 19 coal miners died on the job last year and eight have died this year, according to the Labor Department, reports Huffington Post.

Massey Energy, the fourth biggest coal mining company, still owes over a million dollars in fines. Lax safety standards and a culture of greed rampant throughout the company created a chain of events that led to 29 miners’ deaths in 2010.

The company has more than 12,000 violations of the Clean Water Act and surface mining laws associated with their mountaintop removal mining operations in West Virginia.  

The agency is also cutting back on state grants that pay coal companies to train employees on safety and health issues required by the government.  

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