Showing its love of coal miners, Trump regime seeks rule change to kill more of them from black lung
In 1881, H.A. Lemen, a professor of medicine at Denver University and president of the Colorado Medical Society, presented a paper at the society’s annual meeting. In it, according to Alan Derickson, he reflected on his examination of a man who, after 30 years mining coal in Scotland, England, and Pennsylvania, had contracted an unspecified respiratory disease. Among the symptoms were a “harassing cough” and the spitting of up to a pint a day of a black fluid with a “decidely inky appearance.” Dr. Lemen wrote: “The sentence I am reading was written with this fluid. The pen used has never been in ink.”
Coal has always been a killer.
The Trump regime has nevertheless launched yet another effort to undermine an Obama-era rule designed to reduce that killing.
This time, the target is the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s landmark respirable dust rule. It cuts the mandated level of allowable dust in coal mines by 25 percent. If, after MSHA review, the rule is gutted, there will be no end to an ongoing surge in black lung cases. And that means thousands more miners will die a ghastly death. My grandfather died that way four decades ago.
The duplicity of Donald Trump is scarcely news to anyone. A year ago this month, while signing a roll-back of another rule—this one imposed to protect streams from coal pollution—he told a small group of miners: «We’re going to fight for you like I promised I would in the campaign. And you were very good to me, and I’m going to be even better to you, I promise you that.»
The White House grifter’s trawling for support from coal miners is particularly grotesque given his willingness to trash health and safety regulations and slash the budgets to enforce them. Allowing miners to suck more dust particles into their lungs is “even better to” them how?
Inhaled, those particles—coal dust often mixed with rock dust—can cause black lung, known formally as pneumoconiosis, which gradually destroys the afflicted person’s ability to breathe. The reaping is particularly grim. In its worst form, black lung develops into “complicated pneumonconiosis,” or progressive massive fibrosis (PMF).
A slide from a presentation by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shows the progression from a healthy lung to advanced black lung disease.