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Costs for proposed black lung rules could reach $7B.

The Department of Labor's proposed black lung regulations will result in additional overall costs to coal operators, insurers, and the federal Black Lung Disability Trust Fund of between $3.3B and $7.1B, according to comments filed by the National Mining Association (NMA), the American Insurance Association, National Council on Compensation Insurance, National Workers Compensation Reinsurance Pool, the Alliance of American Insurers, and the American Iron and Steel Institute.

The comments, filed with the Department of Labor on August 21, cite an analysis by the firm Milliman & Robertson, Inc., showing the economic impact of the proposed regulations to be as high as $7.1B. In addition, the actuarial analysis concluded that the proposed changes will contribute to a total program cost, past and future, that will exceed $50B.

According to the comments, the proposed regulations rely heavily on questionable medical evidence to the exclusion of accepted scientific fundings. Moreover, the proposed regulations violate the Administrative Procedure Act and the Black Lung Benefits Act and fail to comply with the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.

At its recent annual meeting, the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates adopted a resolution opposing portions of the proposed black lung regulations that would revise rules that implement the Federal Black Lung Program. The ABA opposed in principle any revisions of 20CFR Part 725, the portion of the regulations that relates primarily with the adjudicatory process of the black lung program.

The comments concluded that the Labor Department must withdraw the proposed regulations because they are seriously flawed, violate federal law, violate good public policy, violate sound science, and are arbitrary and capricious.

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Publication:E&MJ - Engineering & Mining Journal
Date:Oct 1, 1997
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