Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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September 5, 2013

Rockefeller holds round-table discussion on black lung in Bluefield

BLUEFIELD — Amid a series of steps taken to protect West Virginia coal miners, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., today sought input from a broad coalition of stakeholders, experts, advocates, and miners and their families who are all seeking the same goal — endomg black lung disease.

“We have to rid ourselves of the notion that coal miners, who work long hours doing back-breaking jobs to support their families, are destined to get sick,” Rockefeller said during a gathering at the Bluefield Area Arts Center. “No one has to get black lung Disease. It is not inevitable. And it is well past time we relegate this terrible disease to the archives of history.”

Rockefeller this year has acted on several fronts to combat Black Lung disease. In July, he introduced new legislation, the Black Lung Health Improvements Act of 2013, seeking more protections for coal miners. He followed with a letter to President Barack Obama, urging the administration to move more quickly in issuing long delayed new rules on respirable coal dust. Just days later, the administration advanced the rule ahead of its final issuance.

Rockefeller sought new ideas today from stakeholders on how to further protect coal miners from the disease and assist those already suffering.

“We thought, at one time, we had black lung on its heels,” Rockefeller said. “We were wrong. The question before us today is simple: what are we going to do about it?  What are we going to do to prevent the disease and what are we going to do to help those who are already suffering? That’s why I’ve asked this group of people to join me today. I need their help, their input and their ideas.”

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