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National Mining Ass'n v. Secretary

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20022
Nos. 14-11942, -12163, (11th Cir., 01/25/2016)

The Eleventh Circuit denied the coal mining industry's petitions for review of a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regulation aimed at reducing black lung disease and other respiratory illnesses in miners. The petitioners challenged MSHA's authority to issue the rule under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, arguing that the agency must act in concert with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). But the court disagreed. Although MSHA must consider the advice of NIOSH, the Mine Act clearly evinces a congressional intent that MSHA has the sole responsibility to issue regulations covering the subjects addressed by the rule. Here, MSHA received the views of NIOSH on every required topic. Nothing more is required. The petitioners also raised several challenges to the substance of the rule, largely arguing that MSHA failed to consider the best available evidence or demonstrate technological or economic feasibility. The Mine Act, however, evinces a clear bias in favor of miner health and safety, and the duty to use the best evidence and to consider feasibility must be "viewed through this lens" and "cannot be wielded as counterweight to MSHA's overarching role to protect the life and health" of miners. Here, MSHA's decisions comport with the statute and are not otherwise arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the court denied the petitions for review.