Dennis Rehberg On Mine Safety

Rehberg Criticized Mine Inspectors For Doing Their Jobs

Rehberg Criticized Mine Inspectors For Increased Enforcement, Accused Them Of Trying To Destroy Montana’s Mining Industry. In the wake of an April 2010 disaster that killed 29 miners in West Virginia, the Associated Press reported that Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg was criticizing increased enforcement efforts. “Rep. Denny Rehberg says federal officials appear bent on destroying Montana’s mining industry with their aggressive enforcement of mine safety violations in recent months. The Montana Republican said Tuesday that mine inspectors appear driven by environmental extremism rather than safety concerns. He said citations against the Troy silver mine near Libby included one for a ladder with improperly spaced rungs and another for a burned out light bulb.” [Associated Press, 11/11/2010]

Rehberg Called For Eliminating Safety Regulations

Rehberg Said “There’s A Real Need To Eliminate Unnecessary Safety Regulations.” According to the Billings Gazette, when Rehberg was confronted by a local steelworker about cuts to the Mine Safety and Health Administration during a refinery meet-and-greet, “The state’s lone congressman said there’s a real need to eliminate unnecessary safety regulations that entangle companies and don’t make workplaces safer.” [Billings Gazette, 10/2/2010]

Rehberg Opposed Mine Safety Regulations In 2008

Rehberg Voted Against Bill To Crack Down On Mine Safety Violations. In January of 2008, Rehberg voted against passage of HR 2768, the Supplemental Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (S-Miner) Act of 2007. The bill would shorten deadlines for mine operators to conform to new safety requirements, provide the Mine Safety and Health Administration with subpoena power and increase penalties for multiple safety violations. Mine operators would have to install new communications equipment sooner than previously mandated. Mines would be monitored if their seals are not designed to withstand 240 pounds per square inch. [CQ Vote Summary: Vote 10, 1/16/2008]

Rehberg voted Against Safety Requirements for Mining Equipment. In 2008, Denny Rehberg voted against an amendment to a mine safety bill (HR 2768) that would provide the mining industry with an additional 90 days to install fire-resistant conveyer belts.  The amendment would also authorize $30 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration to purchase new dust-monitoring devices. [Vote #5, 1/16/08]

Rehberg voted to Delay Mining Safety Bill. In 2008, Denny Rehberg voted in favor of an amendment to a mine safety bill (HR 2768) that would require a study panel to evaluate the risk assessment procedures of deep mine conditions.  The amendment would also require the Labor Department to promulgate regulations within 180 days of passage and compile a registry of miners who test positive for substance abuse.  The substitute amendment would require several additional studies on mine safety and strip the bill of most of the other changes that were originally offered.  [CQ Bill Analysis, HR 2768; Vote #8, 1/16/08]

Rehberg Again Opposed Mine Safety Regulations In 2010

Rehberg Voted Against Mine Safety Protection Act of 2010. Rehberg voted against a motion to suspend the rules and pass HR 6495, the Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety Protection Act of 2010. The bill would have provided additional authorities to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, including the power to subpoena documents and testimony in carrying out investigations and inspections. It would have increased civil and criminal penalties for mines that violate safety and health regulations and created a system by which mines could be identified as having a history of citations for substantial violations. The bill would have provided for independent investigations for certain mine accidents and increased whistleblower protections for mine workers. A two-thirds vote was required and the motion failed. [CQ Vote Summary: Vote 616, 12/8/2010]