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News Release: [06/23/2010]
Contact:   Amy Louviere
Phone:    202-693-9423
Release Number 10-884-NAT


Statements of US Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis and US Assistant Labor Secretary Joseph A. Main on MSHA's POV Program

WASHINGTON - On April 13, 2010, following the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 men on April 5, U.S. Rep. George Miller, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, asked the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General to review the Mine Safety and Health Administration's Pattern of Violation Program. Later that month, the inspector general began its review, with the full support and cooperation of MSHA leadership and staff. An interim report was released today.

Both Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Assistant Secretary of Labor for MSHA Joseph A. Main welcomed the independent analysis provided by the inspector general; reiterated that the POV system, created by the previous administration, is fundamentally flawed and needs to be fixed; and pledged to revise administrative procedures that govern POVs for the 2010 determinations, as well as to continue to work on legislative and regulatory long-term reforms.

The Department of Labor announced in April that it would work on new regulations that govern the POV system. Today, the department further announced it will change its administrative policies regarding POV to the extent permitted under the law. These new policies will govern the 2010 POV determinations expected in October and assure that all mines are dealt with according to these policies.

Assistant Secretary Main's letter to Chairman Miller, which outlines the agency's short- and long-term plan to fix the broken POV system, is attached. Secretary Solis and Assistant Secretary Main issued the following statements today:

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis: "The Office of Inspector General reaffirms what we already knew: The Pattern of Violation process is badly broken. It's clear that we need to scrap the current system and put a new system in place that is focused on protecting miners' safety and health. I'm working with my former colleagues in Congress to develop a legislative response, and at the same time I've asked MSHA to begin work on both regulatory and administrative fixes. The bottom line is that the system we use this year will be different than the system we used in the past, and we'll continue to work to get this system right in order to protect the safety and health of America's miners."

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph A. Main: "The more one looks at the Pattern of Violation system we inherited, the more problems one finds. That's why, in April, we announced that we'd be rewriting the Pattern of Violation rules this year. We're also conducting a review of the internal policies that govern Pattern of Violations so we can begin to change the way we deal with persistently problematic mines this year. We welcome the inspector general's continued partnership in identifying problems we need to fix, and we remain committed to doing whatever it takes to fix this badly broken system."

    - See Attachment

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