black lung


Photo: Peabody Energy/Wikimedia Commons

Black Lung Resurgence: Without Action, Taxpayers Will Foot the Medical Bills

, senior energy analyst

I’ve written previously about my family’s experience with black lung and how the disease is making a frightening resurgence. A bit like a miner’s headlamp in the darkness, two recent federal reports and several federal scientific studies shine a light on the disease and its implications—and policymakers should take notice.

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Photo: Peabody Energy
GAO
GAO
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A miner waiting for a black lung screening. Photo: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Black Lung, Abandoned Mines, Struggling Communities—And No Leadership

, senior energy analyst

My grandfather was the son of Italian immigrants—many of whom settled in north central West Virginia to work in the coal mines. He worked hard his whole life and built a better life for himself and our family. According to family legend, he famously told my grandmother early in their courtship, “Stick with me, and you’ll wear diamonds.” She did.

My grandfather died of black lung disease in 1988.

Thirty years later, there’s no way that other families should be going through what mine and so many others have. And yet today the disease is making a strong and frightening resurgence. How is black lung related to economic development and mine reclamation? It turns out Congress has an opportunity to address all three by passing the RECLAIM Act—but only if leaders don’t take their eyes off the ball. Read more >

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
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Coal Mining and Public Health: How the Coal Industry, Lawyers, and Doctors Have Betrayed Miners and Their Families

, executive director

Recent news reports about coal mining have pulled me back to thinking about workers—having spent the bulk of my pre-UCS career in occupational health (teaching in medical schools and working for our country’s workplace health and safety research agency, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health/NIOSH). With the critical focus on climate change and the need to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases and other dangerous pollutants from coal-burning power plants, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the health impacts coal has on the brave souls who mine it and on their families who share in their suffering. Read more >

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