Already in 2013, five coal miners have died in West Virginia.
Rahall said, "We must not wait for further loss of life from a preventable tragedy to act to bolster our mine safety laws that we know are inadequate.
"This legislation is an important step in making good on an obligation we have to the health and safety of our courageous miners and their families."
Other new provisions in the legislation would:
• Expand MSHA subpoena powers so the agency can conduct more thorough and exhaustive investigations.
• Increase penalties against any mining company official who gives employees advance notice of upcoming mine safety inspections.
• Increase the amount of rock dusting in all working areas.
• Provide for the creation of independent investigation panels appointed by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Each panel would have subpoena power to look into any incident that killed three or more miners.
NIOSH investigations would include recommendations to improve regulations, inspections and enforcement.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.