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Protect Miners From Black Lung

East Ohio and Northern Panhandle residents know too much about black lung disease to be happy about talk in Washington of watering down protections against it for coal miners.

In some areas, black lung is making a comeback, despite decades of regulations meant to curb it.

Officials of the Mine Safety and Health Administration are seeking comments on whether mining industry regulations meant to offer workers at least some protection against black lung should be amended. The agency specifically seeks input on whether the rules “could be improved or made more effective or less burdensome by accommodating advances in technology, innovative techniques or less costly methods.”

If they can be made more effective, by all means, do it.

But if the proposal is cover for a plan to reduce industry costs by placing miners in greater jeopardy, it ought to be rejected out of hand.

MSHA officials should take a look at mining regulations. Some of them may be unduly burdensome to the industry, while contributing nothing to the health and safey of miners.

But any examination should be science-based, starting with no preconceived notions.

That could lead to better ways to safeguard miners — and, let us not forget, their families — from the dangers inherent in digging coal for a living.

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