Coal-related legislation

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Coal Ash Reclamation, Environment, and Safety Act of 2009

H.R.493 -- Coal Ash Reclamation, Environment, and Safety Act of 2009 (Introduced in House - IH) was introduced in the House by West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahall in January 2009, following the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill. The bill would impose design, engineering, and performance standards on all surface impoundments that are constructed to hold coal ash.[1]

A summary of donations by organizations supporting and opposing the bill by the money-and-politics research group MAPLight showed that opponents of the legislation donated four times as much to House members as supporters of the legislation.[2]

Supplemental Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act (S-MINER)

In April 2010 MAPLight released data on the United States Mining Industry's donations to politicians. As MAPLight explained:

  • In June of 2007, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) introduced the Supplemental Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act (S-MINER), which, according to the Congressional Research Service, would have supplemented existing mining provisions in the Federal Mine Act to require: "(1) emergency response plans to incorporate new technology; (2) the Secretary of Labor to require the installation of rescue chambers in underground coal mines; and (3) accident response plans to provide for the maintenance of refuges." Miller chairs the House Committee on Education and Labor, which issued a report stating: "The S-MINER Act aims to prevent disasters and, in cases where disasters do occur, to improve emergency response. It also aims to reduce long-term health risks facing miners, such as black lung." Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) explained the bill was necessary because the 2006 MINER Act provisions had not been effectively enforced. “So far, I am concerned that the slow pace of reform is leaving America's miners at risk. We've made progress. But [the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA)] has not moved aggressively to implement all of the provisions of the MINER Act.”[3]
The House passed the S-MINER Act in January 2008 but the bill died in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, chaired by Sen. Murray, met to consider the bill but no action was ever taken. reports:
  • For the House vote, 25 House Democrats and nearly all House Republicans voted against the bill. On average, House opponents received 103 percent more money from mining interests than House members voting Yes (an average of $12,526 to each member voting No, $6,174 to each voting Yes). Democrats voting No received 197 percent more money from mining interests than their colleagues voting Yes (an average of $16,314 to each Democrat voting No, $5,489 to each voting Yes).
  • Seven House Republicans, including West Virginia's Shelley Capito, supported passage of the bill, although they received little campaign funding from unions, the primary interest found to be supporting the bill.[3]

Below is a table that shows the contributions (2003-2008) from Interest Groups that supported and opposed the S-MINER Act to members of the Senate HELP Committee in the 110th Congress.[3]

Critics argued that the passage of the bill may have prevented the April 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster in West Virgina.[4]

Contributions (2003-2008) from Interest Groups that Supported and Opposed the S-MINER Act to Members of the Senate HELP Committee in the 110th Congress

Senate HELP Committee Member Party State State Rank in Mining Production $ From Supporting Interest Groups $ From Opposing Interest Groups
Isakson, John Republican GA 20th $0 $97,500
Murray, Patty Democrat WA 32nd $42,000 $74,141
Hatch, Orrin Republican UT 6th $0 $73,350
Murkowski, Lisa Republican AK 10th $0 $72,850
Enzi, Michael Republican WY 3rd $0 $68,600
Burr, Richard Republican NC 26th $0 $63,449
Alexander, Lamar Republican TN 28th $0 $45,800
Roberts, Pat Republican KS 25th $0 $40,300
Bingaman, Jeff Democrat NM 16th $10,000 $33,400
Clinton, Hillary Democrat NY 24th $24,500 $22,700
Coburn, Thomas Republican OK 31st $0 $22,299
Gregg, Judd Republican NH 47th $0 $11,800
Dodd, Christopher Democrat CT 44th $18,500 $9,000
Allard, Wayne Republican CO 12th $0 $7,500
Obama, Barack Democrat IL 19th $29,500 $7,000
Brown, Sherrod Democrat OH 21st $65,250 $6,000
Harkin, Thomas Democrat IA 33rd $23,850 $5,550
Mikulski, Barbara Democrat MD 29th $26,000 $4,500
Reed, John Democrat RI 49th $11,000 $4,000
Kennedy, Edward Democrat MA 39th $4,500 $0
Sanders, Bernard Independent VT 48th $46,800 $0
Total $301,900 $669,739

Other Legislation

  • H. Res. 918 (110th Congress): Providing for consideration of the...Passed House
  • S. 1655 (110th Congress): Miner Health and Safety Enhancement Act...Dead
  • H.R. 5389 (109th Congress): Protecting America's Miners Act...Dead
  • S. 1655 (110th Congress): Miner Health and Safety Enhancement Act of 2007
  • H.R. 2769 (110th Congress): Miner Health Enhancement Act of 2007
  • S. 2263 (110th Congress): Mine Communications Technology Innovation Act
  • S. 2127 (110th Congress): Mine Disaster Family Assistance Act of 2007
  • H.R. 576 (110th Congress): Federal Mine Ventilation Safety Act of 2007
  • H.R. 3877 (110th Congress): Mine Communications Technology Innovation Act
  • Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010
  • H.R.6113: Electricity Reliability Protection Act of 2010[5]
  • H.R. 1310: Clean Water Protection Act
  • S. 3072: Stationary Source Regulations Delay Act[6]



  1. Eoin O'Carroll, Coal ash legislation introduced in House, Christian Science Monitor, January 16, 2009
  2. "H.R. 493 - Coal Ash Reclamation, Environment, and Safety Act of 2009," MAPLight, accessed September 23, 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Mining Industry Invests in Politicians; Stopped Mine Safety Law", accessed April 14, 2010.
  4. Emily Calhoun,"Mining Industry Invested in Politicians - Stopped Safety Laws" Progressive Democrats of America, accessed April 14, 2010.
  5. "Rick Boucher," Appalachian Voices, accessed September 30, 2010
  6. Stationary Source Regulations Delay Act

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