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109th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     109-365

======================================================================



 
MINE IMPROVEMENT AND NEW EMERGENCY RESPONSE ACT OF 2006 OR THE ``MINER 
                                 ACT''

                                _______
                                

                December 6, 2006.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Enzi, from the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 2803]

    The Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 2803) to amend the Federal Mine 
Safety and Health Act of 1977 to improve the safety of mines 
and mining, having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon with an amendment in the nature of a substitute and 
recommends that the bill (as amended) do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
  I. Purpose and Summary..............................................1
 II. Background.......................................................2
III. History of Legislation and Committee Action......................2
 IV. Explanation of Bill and Committee Views..........................3
  V. Cost Estimate...................................................11
 VI. Application of Law to the Legislative Branch....................12
VII. Regulatory Impact Statement.....................................12
VIII.Section-by-Section Analysis.....................................12

 IX. Changes in Existing Law.........................................15

                         I. Purpose and Summary

    The purpose of the ``Mine Improvement and New Emergency 
Response [`MINER'] Act of 2006'', S. 2803, is to further the 
goals set out in the Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 and to 
enhance worker safety in our nation's mines. The bill amends 
the 1977 act to require incident assessment and planning, 
harness new and emerging technology, enhance research and 
education, improve safety-related procedures and protocols and 
increase enforcement and compliance to improve mine safety.

                             II. Background

    The record of mine safety in the United States is one of 
continuing and oftentimes significant improvement. These 
improvements are undoubtedly a function of the increased focus 
and emphasis on safety by both mine operators and their 
employees, as well as the efforts of State and Federal 
regulators and members of the regulated community. But despite 
this progress, mining remains a dangerous endeavor.
    The year 2006 began with the tragic loss of 12 miners at 
the Sago Mine in West Virginia, followed closely by the deaths 
of two miners at the Alma Mine, also in West Virginia; and some 
4 months later by the deaths of 5 miners at the Darby Mine in 
Harlan County, Kentucky. The death toll in the first 5 months 
of the year was nearly 50 percent higher than the entire 
previous year. Additionally, the rise in coal production in the 
last few years raises the committee's concerns that there is 
the potential for a return to higher numbers of accidents and 
fatalities.
    Improvements in safety come about because of a continued 
re-examination and revision of safety and regulatory practices 
in light of experience. These tragedies serve as a somber 
reminder that even that which has been done well can always be 
done better.

            III. History of Legislation and Committee Action

    After the Sago Mine accident on January 2, 2006, the 
Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee 
assembled a group of members to travel to West Virginia to 
explore the need for reforms to the Mine Safety and Health Act 
of 1977. Senators Enzi, Kennedy, Isakson, and staff of Senator 
Murray were hosted there by Senator Rockefeller.
    On February 15, the Employment and Workplace Safety 
Subcommittee held a roundtable hearing, ``Mine Safety 
Technology'' chaired by Senators Isakson and Murray. Witnesses 
at this hearing included: Mr. Bob Campman, Vice President of 
R&D;, Grace Industries Incorporated; Mr. Pat Droppleman, 
President of Ocenco Corporation, Dr. R. Larry Grayson, Chairman 
of the Department of Mining & Nuclear Engineering at University 
of Missouri-Rolla, Mr. Wes Kenneweg, President of Draeger 
Industries; Dr. Roy Nutter, a professor at the College of 
Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University; 
Mr. Dennis O'Dell, Administrator of Health and Safety Programs 
for the United Mine Workers of America; Mr. Sam Shearer, 
President of CSE Corporation; Dr.Starnes Walker, Technical 
Director of the Office of Naval Research at the United States 
Navy; and Mr. Gary Zamel, President of Mine Site Technologies 
Pty. Ltd. Also in attendance but not testifying was Dr. Kohler, 
Associate Director for Mining and Construction at the National 
Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.
    On March 2, the HELP Committee held a hearing on the State 
of Mine Safety and Health. Witnesses at the hearing were Mr. 
David Dye, Acting Assistant Director, MSHA; Mr. Ray McKinney, 
Administrator, Coal Mine Safety and Health, MSHA; Dr. John 
Howard, Director, National Institute of Occupational Safety and 
Health (NIOSH); Dr. Jeffery Kohler, Associate Director for 
Mining and Construction, NIOSH; Mr. Mike Peelish, Senior Vice 
President, Safety & Human Resources, Foundation Coal 
Corporation; Mr. Michael E. Neason, American Society of Safety 
Engineers (Safety Director at Hanson Aggregates); Dr. Tom 
Novak, C.T. Holland Professor, Head of Department of Mining and 
Minerals Engineering, Virginia Tech; and Mr. Cecil Roberts, 
President of the United Mine Workers of America.
    The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response [``MINER''] 
Act of 2006, S. 2803, was introduced by Senators Enzi, Kennedy, 
Isakson, Murray, Rockefeller, Byrd, DeWine, and Santorum on May 
16, 2006 and referred to the HELP Committee. Additional 
cosponsors included Senators Specter, McConnell, Bunning, and 
Obama. On May 17, 2006, the committee held an executive session 
to consider S. 2803. After accepting a manager's amendment and 
a Sessions amendment which changed the name of the Sago Mine 
Safety Grant program authorized in Section 14 of the Act to 
``Brookwood-Sago'', S. 2803 was favorably and unanimously 
reported out of the HELP Committee. It was passed by the Senate 
by unanimous consent on May 24, 2006.
    S. 2803 was passed by the House of Representatives on June 
7, 2006 by a vote of 381-37, and was signed into law by 
President George W. Bush on June 15, 2006. It became Public Law 
number 109-236.
    After the MINER Act was signed into law, a small number of 
technical changes were made to the Act as enacted. These were 
included in Section 1301 of H.R. 4, the Pension Protection Act, 
which was signed into law by the President as Public Law 109-
280 on August 17, 2006. The changes made in this later 
lawaffect only the numbering of the penalties section of the statute. 
These changes are not reflected in Title IX of this report.

              IV. Explanation of Bill and Committee Views

    Successfully managing risk and ensuring worker safety in 
the underground coal environment requires innovation, 
vigilance, adaptability and resources. The MINER Act, by 
requiring mines to develop, adopt and periodically modify 
accident response plans, seeks to incorporate these essential 
characteristics into its approach to workplace safety.
    Section 2 of the Act reflects a wide range of 
considerations. First, the committee recognizes that effective 
risk management is forward-looking, and that assessing 
potential dangers and planning for them in advance not only 
makes the management of future accidents more effective, but 
may lessen the risk of accidents occurring in the first place. 
The committee believes that utilization of a plan concept will 
encourage such forward-looking risk assessment. Second, the 
committee recognizes that good safety practice is often an 
evolving concept based upon experience and technological 
development. The committee's approach therefore contemplates 
change as safety improvements warrant. Third, the committee 
recognizes that each underground coal environment is unique and 
that what works effectively in one setting may not be optimal 
in the next. Accordingly, the committee believes an approach 
that sets minimum standards but also enables operators to 
achieve safety goals with some degree of latitude will best 
effectuate the purposes of the act. The goals of optimizing 
safety and survivability must be unchanging, but the manner for 
doing so must be practical and sensible.

                    THE PLAN: GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

    In order to facilitate implementation of the act's 
provisions, the committee decided to make use of the ``plan'' 
model since all parties were familiar with its use in other 
contexts. The MINER Act requires the development and adoption 
of response and preparedness plans, which must provide for the 
evacuation of miners who may be endangered in an emergency or, 
if miners cannot evacuate, provide for their maintenance 
underground.
    Under current law, operators are required to file, and MSHA 
is required to review and approve both mine roof plans and mine 
ventilation plans. The use of such plans is thus familiar to 
employees and their representatives. Roof and ventilation plans 
are periodically revised to reflect changes in the physical 
structure of the individual mine and any relevant advancements 
in technology or technique. They are forward-looking, and their 
formulation requires that potential problems or issues be 
anticipated and planned for in advance. Additionally, their 
formulation and approval is, in most instances, a cooperative 
process that is traditionally guided by practicality, 
flexibility and front line expertise. These are all features 
that are of value in a broader safety context as well, so long 
as basic safety protections are not compromised.
    The individual plan model contemplates that safety 
solutions and risk-management plans will be designed and 
reviewed by those who are ``on the ground,'' and therefore most 
familiar with the unique circumstances and most practical 
approaches. This envisions that operators, in formulating their 
plans and MSHA field personnel, in reviewing and approving 
them, think creatively and practically.
    The committee recognizes that effective risk management 
must be goal-oriented, and that use of the most practical and 
efficient means to achieve the goal should always be the 
guiding regulatory principle. Flexibility and practicality are 
valuable provided they are directed to formulating the best 
available means to achieve the goal, and that safety goals and 
basic safety standards are not compromised in their 
achievement.
    There was understandable concern over the degree to which 
the plan model might place additional burdens on both 
regulators and the regulated community. On balance, however, 
the committee determined this model was the most useful, and 
that some of these concerns might be met through more efficient 
administration of the process. In this regard, the committee 
would note that a plan that is reviewed and approved at the 
district office level is not only likely to be the most 
practical; it is also the most expeditious. Operators are 
therefore encouraged to work with district office personnel in 
the formulation and approval process; and district office 
personnel are encouraged to take initiative in the process and 
to utilize their judgment and expertise in working with 
operators to craft flexible and practical solutions. The 
committee also envisions that, where possible, all parties 
utilize available means of communication designed to make the 
process more efficient. For example, operators should be 
allowed to file final safety plans on-line.
    The committee also recognizes the expertise of working 
miners, who are very familiar with the conditions of a mine. 
The act requires that operators allow input from miners in the 
development of their safety plan, and that such input will be 
considered seriously and thoroughly. Such involvement will help 
to ensure that safety plans are based on a broad scope of 
safety information and allow for the development of the most 
effective and efficient safety plans.
    While the committee is hopeful that the vast majority of 
plans will be formulated and approved without difficulty, it 
also recognizes that in some instances there may be 
controversies that require prompt and impartial resolution. 
Once again, the committee opted to utilize a procedure with 
which the parties are familiar as a means of resolving such 
disputes. Thus, where a dispute regarding the approval or 
content of a plan arises between the Secretary and an operator, 
the Secretary will issue a citation with regard to the 
underlying issue. Use of a``technical violation'' and 
accompanying citation is the means by which roof and ventilation plan 
disputes are traditionally reviewed. Typically, in the case of such a 
dispute, the citation issued is one under Section 104(a). The same 
process is anticipated with regard to safety plan disputes. The 
committee also has recognized the need for expedition in the resolution 
of such disputes and has therefore provided for an accelerated 
procedural framework. As is currently the case with roof and 
ventilation plans, the dispute resolution process begins with a review 
and decision by an Administrative Law Judge from the Mine Safety and 
Health Review Commission. Further appeal from the ALJ's decision may be 
taken in the same manner as with any other citation. This process is, 
of course, to be distinguished from the issuance of a citation for non-
compliance with the provisions of an already approved plan. In those 
instances the normal procedures regarding citation level and appeal 
process would apply.

             SPECIFIC PLAN CONTENT: IMMEDIATE REQUIREMENTS

    As noted, the committee recognizes the value and necessity 
of a flexible, individualized and goal-oriented approach to 
safety and incident management. It also, however, has made 
particular note of areas of concern that have universal 
applicability and are therefore susceptible of more generalized 
regulation. In reviewing the problems historically encountered 
and recently experienced in accidents in the underground coal 
setting, the committee had specific concerns in six areas: 
post-accident communication, post-accident tracking, post-
accident breathable air, lifelines for use in post-accident 
escape, training, and local emergency coordination. These are 
discussed below.

Redundant communication systems

    In the wake of a coal mine accident, the ability of 
underground personnel to communicate with rescue workers is 
essential and can be the margin of difference between a 
successful rescue operation and tragic result. As essential as 
such communication may be, its use is complicated by current 
technological limitations, the unique physical characteristics 
of an underground mining environment, and a number of other 
relevant considerations. While all underground coal mines are 
required to maintain a telephone line or its equivalent, 
experience has shown that such systems are often rendered 
unusable in a post accident setting. Explosions, roof falls, or 
similar accidents often sever the continuously wired connection 
necessary for the operation of such systems.
    The legislation aims to increase the likelihood that 
telephone or equivalent wired systems remain operable in a 
post-accident setting. The committee concluded that one of the 
most readily implemented means achieving this goal is through 
the use of redundant systems. Thus, while an approved plan must 
contain two means by which underground personnel can 
communicate with the surface, the configuration of such a 
redundant system should be guided by the goal of ensuring at 
least one communication survives a potential incident. In most 
instances, the survivability of a wired system is most likely 
to be achieved by locating the redundant line in a different 
entry than the primary line. However, there may be limited 
instances where this is not possible, or where the 
survivability of the redundant system is equally, or even more 
greatly enhanced, through the use of an alternate placement. 
Here, as throughout the act, the determining factor should 
always be what is most likely to achieve the goal that is 
contemplated by the act's provision. In this case, of course, 
the goal is the accident survivability of a wired communication 
system or its equivalent.

Tracking system

    The ability to locate and account for all underground 
personnel is often critical to incident outcome. Like 
communication systems, tracking systems are vulnerable to 
damage and consequent interruption in the event of a fire, 
explosion, or similar catastrophic event. Technological 
advances will assist tracking and locator systems to meet the 
unique physical challenges of underground mining. Subsection 
(F) of Section 2 reflects the committee's belief that wireless 
post-accident tracking technology of general utility will 
become commercially available and approved in the near future. 
Subsection (E)(ii) of the Act serves as a bridge to that 
anticipated technology by requiring the use of dispatcher or 
equivalent systems in the interim.

Breathable air

    In committee hearings, there was agreement among safety 
experts that in the event of an underground mine accident, 
escape is the first and the preferred option. The act does not 
signify a change in that philosophy. However, whether miners 
are effectuating an escape or awaiting rescue, where escape 
proves impossible, breathable air is essential to sustaining 
life.
    The act increases the quantity of self-contained self-
rescuers [``SCSRs''] that will be required to be stored 
underground, and thus, increases the amount of breathable air 
available to underground personnel both in the event of escape 
and entrapment. In addition, with regard to an entrapment, the 
act requires that emergency plans analyze likely risks to 
determine if breathable air beyond the increased stores of 
SCSRs is necessary; and, if so, by what means can the goal be 
attained.
    Subpart (I): Although at least one jurisdiction has adopted 
a fixed time standard for breathable air, the committee elected 
not to do so. Instead the committee believes an emergency plan 
should address possible incidents and the attendant need for 
sufficient breathable air. The projected need is obviously 
fact-specific. For example, a single entry mine in which the 
working face is located at a great depth and distance from the 
mouth of the entry presents a very different set of 
circumstances than a shallow mine, or one in which the working 
face isaccessible from alternative entries. Equally diverse are 
the possible means by which a goal of additional breathable air can be 
achieved. The use of additional caches of SCSRs, the development and 
deployment of SCSRs with greater capacity and reliability, the 
development and use of innovations such as ``dockable'' SCSRs, air 
locks with stored oxygen, secure refuge areas with surface boreholes 
represent just a few possibilities in this regard.
    Subpart (II): This section requires that miners have 2 
hours of breathable air that is readily accessible at their 
worksite. It also requires the storage of additional breathable 
air along escapeways from the deepest work area of the mine to 
the surface. These additional storage caches are to be spaced 
at a distance no further than the average miner could walk in 
30 minutes. The committee anticipates that this will result in 
the availability of no less than 2 hours of breathable air per 
miner along the escapeways, and that miners will be provided 
with sufficient oxygen to exit the mine under emergency 
conditions.
    Subpart (II) contemplates the use of a performance-based 
measure of this 30-minute period to determine how far apart the 
breathable air caches are to be located. The committee 
anticipates that the 30-minute measure will be calculated by 
reference to studies and/or actual demonstrations that take 
into account a variety of factors and that reflect actual 
distances that miners can walk in emergency conditions.
    The subpart provides that SCSR caches will be maintained in 
the escapeway, however, the committee recognizes that actual 
storage ``in'' an escapeway could impede passage through the 
escapeway, and, consequently that caches may be stored in 
cutouts or cross-cuts. In those instances where primary and 
alternative escapeways are connected by a cross-cut, 
consideration should be given to use of a common cache that 
would service both escapeways, provided there is adequate 
protection of the common cache from incident damage originating 
in either escapeway, and that such caching otherwise meets MSHA 
standards and has demonstrated safety benefits.
    Subpart (III): This provision reflects the committee's 
concern that SCSR units must be properly maintained and checked 
for reliability as part of an approved plan. In addition, 
units, at the end of their respective service lives, be 
replaced with more technically advanced models as they become 
available and approved.

Lifelines

    Providing underground personnel with assistance in locating 
and following escape routes, particularly in circumstances of 
diminished visibility, is an important feature in any emergency 
plan. Flame-resistant directional lifelines are likely the most 
common method for achieving this end, and are the most 
reasonably calculated to remain usable in a post-accident 
setting. However, there were clearly situations where other 
types of marking systems might be equivalent, or even better in 
terms of functionality. The committee was of the view that such 
alternative systems may be acceptable provided that they 
achieve the same goal of enhancing evacuation and escape. The 
act requires that flame-resistant lifelines be introduced as 
lifelines are replaced, but in working sections of the mine 
they must be installed upon date of replacement of existing 
lifelines or 3 years after the enactment of the MINER Act, 
whichever is sooner.

Training

    Ensuring that employees are adequately trained with respect 
to emergency procedures and safety standards is an important 
component of any comprehensive approach to safety. It is 
contemplated that the provisions of the legislation will result 
in the adoption of new and different procedures that will 
require additional employee training and that such training 
will be in addition to, and will not detract from, what is 
currently required under section 115 of the act.

Local Coordination

    Mine rescue work is very specialized and must be left to 
those who are properly trained to carry it out. While local 
first responders do not possess the necessary training for the 
underground work associated with mine rescue, they can serve a 
vital above-ground resource to rescue operations. It is 
important that the appropriate assignment of roles, 
coordination of functions, and anticipation and planning for 
rescue-related activities be periodically reviewed with local 
first responders. Integrated above ground operations greatly 
facilitate underground rescue work. For these reasons, the 
committee determined that an emergency response plan should 
provide the means to achieve these ends through appropriate 
advance contact, discussion and coordination with local first 
responders and emergency personnel.

               SPECIFIC PLAN CONTENT: FUTURE REQUIREMENTS

    The committee believes that communications and tracking 
technology hold great promise and, further believes that such 
promise must be fostered and encouraged. At the same time, it 
recognizes that technology continues to evolve, and that such 
systems may be limited by the particular characteristics of 
individual mines. For example, some surface-based systems may 
not be capable of achieving the necessary ground cover 
penetration to be useful.
    Despite current short-comings, the pace of technological 
progress is encouraging. Given such pace the committee believed 
that a 3 year goal of developing and deploying two-way 
communication and tracking systems that would remain functional 
even after a catastrophic underground event was not 
unreasonable. The committee, however, was fully aware that it 
could notreasonably enact legislation that mandated the use of 
technology that was not yet available, and that might not work in all 
instances, without making some allowance for such contingencies. Thus, 
the legislation requires that emergency plans address these issues in 
not less than 3 years either by providing for the use of such 
technologies or detailing within the plan the fact that the technology 
is either not commercially available, or, if commercially available, 
why it would not work in the particular mine in question and what 
alternative is being utilized. It is also the committee's intent that 
minor technological limitations shall not discourage mines from 
adopting new technologies, in cases where such technologies have 
significant safety benefits.
    In Section 3, the committee recognizes the critically 
important work of mine rescue teams and the concerns of 
companies which sponsor them. Mine rescue team members are 
volunteers, and the companies that deploy them to mines they do 
not own or have rescue team contracts with do so voluntarily. 
Neither the team members nor the mine companies should fear 
liability in the course of their rescue work. This section is 
intended to avoid disputes about liability at the scene of an 
emergency and to encourage miners to participate in rescue 
teams. It is also intended to encourage employers to field 
rescue teams and to send them to other mines.
    Section 4 imposes new requirements for mine rescue teams at 
underground coal mines. It is not the intent of the committee 
to displace the current practice in some States of providing 
state-sponsored mine rescue teams. It is the view of the 
committee that state-sponsored teams which meet the 
familiarity, training and proximity requirements in Section 4 
will satisfy the requirement to make available mine rescue 
teams for underground coal mines with 36 employees or less and 
those with more than 36 employees. It is also the view of the 
committee that the classifications established by Section 4 of 
``more than 36'' or ``36 or fewer employees'' should be 
interpreted, as it is currently (30 CFR 49.3), to encompass 
total underground employment.
    Section 5 requires MSHA notification within 15 minutes for 
a subset of situations which are currently defined as accidents 
under regulation [30 CFR 50.2(h)]. The committee intends the 15 
minute requirement to apply only to accidents described in 30 
CFR 50.2(h)(1), (2), and (3): meaning those that involve death 
of an individual at the mine, and those that involve an injury 
or entrapment of an individual at the mine which has reasonable 
potential to cause death. Similarly, it is the intent of the 
committee that the minimum fine of $5,000 be assessed only for 
those accidents described in 30 CFR 50.2(h)(1), (2), and (3).
    The intent of Section 6 is to strengthen the focus of the 
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health 
[``NIOSH''] on mining issues. The committee recognizes that 
Federal mining safety research was dislocated when its parent 
agency, the Bureau of Mines under the Department of Interior, 
was eliminated in 1995. Federal mining research was eventually 
transferred into NIOSH at the Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention (CDC). In fiscal year 2005, NIOSH received $257 
million in funding, $30.7 million of which was devoted to mine 
safety research. By permanently creating an Office of Mine 
Safety and Health within NIOSH, the committee wishes to enhance 
the current mining research performed and maintain NIOSH's 
significant research capabilities and resources, such as the 
laboratory facilities in Spokane and Pittsburgh.
    The committee has heard the argument that the placement of 
NIOSH within CDC diffuses leadership and funding, ultimately 
compromising the NIOSH mission. However, it is the view of the 
committee that CDC will recognize the strong Congressional 
desire that the new Office of Mine Safety and Health be placed 
in a position of high priority within the agency. The committee 
looks forward to working with the Director of CDC to enhance 
the position of NIOSH and mine research in the agency.
    By authorizing the Office of Mine Safety and Health to 
award grants and contracts to appropriate entities to develop 
and test new technologies, the committee intends to accelerate 
the pace of research and progress. The committee notes the 
observation of experts that the pace of mining safety 
technology has slowed in the years since the Bureau of Mines 
was eliminated; as well as the frustration that some safety-
enhancing technologies which are able to be produced today 
remain unavailable on the commercial market. The committee 
hopes that NIOSH will place particular emphasis on development 
and demonstration of wireless, multimode, two-way radio 
communications and tracking technologies for underground mines, 
which will alleviate the current problems with locating and 
communicating with trapped miners.
    Section 6 also requires the establishment of an Interagency 
Working Group to ensure that the Office of Mine Safety and 
Health has access to the full scale of research being conducted 
by the Federal Government. The Associate Director of Mine 
Safety and Health has the authority to determine which research 
agencies should be included in the working group. The committee 
intends that every federally-funded entity requested to 
participate will do so to the full extent possible.
    Section 10 requires the Secretary to raise the required 
strength level for materials sealing off abandoned areas in 
underground coal mines. The committee notes that the vast 
majority of existing seals are used to close off areas with 
stabilized levels of methane, the disturbance of which could 
create extreme and unnecessary danger.
    In Section 11, the committee responds to the wide 
divergence of views on the use of belt air in underground coal 
mining. It is the committee's view that a scientific review of 
the safety of belt air would provide clarity to this debate. 
The committee also seeks additional information regarding the 
use of fire retardant materials in belts installed in entries 
that conduct fresh air for the ventilation of active working 
sections. Section 11 therefore establishes a Technical Study 
panel to review these questions and report back to Congress, 
the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human 
Services. It is the intent of the committee that this Panel be 
made up of highly qualified experts in the field of mining 
engineering or other scientific fields demonstrably related to 
the subject of the report, and, furthermore, that no person 
appointed to the Panel be an employee of the mining industry or 
organized labor.
    The committee also recognizes that refuge chambers may be a 
viable means to protect miners' lives in the event they are 
unable to evacuate from the mine. In Section 12, the committee 
directed further research by NIOSH on the potential use of 
refuge chambers, including portable chambers. It is anticipated 
that in the course of such study, the use of, and experience 
with, refuge chambers in other countries that have utilized 
them will be considered.

                            V. Cost Estimate

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, June 22, 2006.
Hon. Judd Gregg,
Chairman, Committee on the Budget,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 2803, the Mine 
Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006. The 
Congress completed action on S. 2803 on June 7, 2006, and the 
President signed it into law on June 15, 2006.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Geoffrey 
Gerhardt (for federal spending), and Emily Schlect (for federal 
revenues).
            Sincerely,
                                          Donald B. Marron,
                                                   Acting Director.
    Enclosure.

S. 2803--Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006

    Summary: S. 2803, signed into law as Public Law 109-236, 
requires operators of underground coal mines to improve 
accident preparedness. The legislation requires mining 
companies to develop an emergency response plan specific to 
each mine they operate, and requires that every mine have at 
least two rescue teams located within one hour. This act also 
limits the legal liability of rescue team members and the 
companies that employ them. It increases both civil and 
criminal penalties for violations of federal mining safety 
standards and gives the Mine Safety and Health Administration 
(MSHA) the ability to temporarily close a mine that fails to 
pay the penalties or fines. In addition, the law requires 
several studies into ways to enhance mine safety, as well as 
the establishment of a new office within the National Institute 
for Occupational Safety and Health devoted to improving mine 
safety. Finally, the law establishes new scholarship and grant 
programs devoted to training individuals with respect to mine 
safety.
    By increasing civil and criminal penalties, CBO estimates 
that Public Law 109-236 will increase federal revenues by $1 
million in 2006, by $27 million over the 2006-2011 period, and 
by $53 million through 2016. (Civil and criminal penalties are 
recorded by the federal budget as revenues). Funds collected 
through increases in criminal penalties are deposited in the 
Crime Victims Fund and subsequently spent. CBO estimates that 
the law will increase direct spending by about $5 million over 
the 2007-2011 period, and by $10 million over the 2007-2016 
period.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The following 
table summarizes the estimated effects of the act on revenues 
and direct spending.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                         By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   2006    2007    2008    2009    2010    2011    2012    2013    2014    2015    2016
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Changes in revenues.............................................       1       5       5       5       5       5       5       5       5       5       5
Changes in outlays..............................................       0       *       1       1       1       1       1       1       1       1       1
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: * = less than $500,000.

    Under prior law, civil penalties for mine safety violations 
were capped at $60,000 per violation. This legislation raises 
that ceiling to $220,000. It also increases minimum civil 
penalties for certain violations from $60 to $2,000. Further, 
the law raises criminal penalties from $25,000 to $250,000 for 
a first conviction and from $50,000 to $500,000 for successive 
violations.
    CBO estimates that these changes will increase federal 
revenues by $1 million in 2006, by $27 million over the 2006-
2011 period, and by $53 million over the 2006-2016 period. 
Civil penalties are recorded in the federal budget as revenues. 
Criminal penalties are recorded in the budget as revenues, 
deposited in the Crime Victims Fund, and later spent. CBO 
estimates that the additional criminal penalties collected as a 
result of the law will increase direct spending from the Crime 
Victims Fund by about $5 million over the 2007-2011 period, and 
about $10 million through 2016.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Revenues: Emily Schlect, 
Federal Spending: Geoffrey Gerhardt.
    Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis; G. Thomas Woodward, Assistant 
Director for Tax Analysis.

              VI. Application of Law to Legislative Branch

    The committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of Section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

                    VII. Regulatory Impact Statement

    Pursuant to paragraph 11(b) of the Standing Rules of the 
Senate, the committee makes the following statement concerning 
the regulatory impact that might be incurred in carrying out 
this legislation. The MINER Act requires operators of 
underground coal mines to develop a written accident response 
and preparedness plan for each mine they operate. It also 
requires the Secretary of Labor to issue new regulations 
regarding the sealing of abandoned areas in underground coal 
mines to increase the 20 psi standard in effect at the time the 
MINER Act was enacted. The act requires changes to the 
regulation concerning rescue teams. It also requires the 
Secretary of Labor to promulgate final regulations with respect 
to penalties by December 30, 2006, and requires that monetary 
penalties be raised for specific violations.

                   VIII. Section by Section Analysis

    Section I--Title. Mine Improvement and New Emergency 
Response Act of 2006.
    Section 2--Mine-Specific Emergency Response Plans. This 
section contains the essence of the legislation's regulatory 
approach. It requires each covered mine to develop, and to 
continuously update, a written emergency response plan that is 
adapted to the individual mine; and calls for the use of 
equipment and technology that is currently commercially 
available, andworkable in the particular mine. These emergency 
response plans must be continuously reviewed and updated by the 
operator, and must be reviewed and re-certified by MSHA every 6 months.
    The plans must, at a minimum, provide for (a) post-accident 
communication such as secondary telephone lines or equivalent 
two-way communications; (b) post-accident tracking to locate 
underground personnel; (c) post-accident breathable air in 
sufficient quantities to maintain miners underground for a 
sustained period of time; (d) post-accident lifelines to enable 
evacuations; (e) training; and (f) local coordination with 
emergency response personnel to facilitate above ground 
activities in support of rescue efforts. In addition to these 
general requirements, this section directs the Secretary to 
require wireless two-way communications and an electronic 
tracking system permitting those on the surface to locate 
persons trapped underground within 3 years, or to set forth, 
within the plan, reasons such provisions cannot be adopted at 
that mine and alternative means of compliance. The intent of 
this section is for operators to use the most advanced 
technology available that works best in their particular mine, 
to provide a means for the plan to be continuously adapted to 
changes in the mine or in the commercial technical equipment 
market, and to avoid the ``behave only to the letter of the 
standard'' syndrome that stifles innovation and delays the 
implementation of new methods or equipment. Minor limitations 
shall not discourage mines from adopting new technology, in 
cases where it has significant safety benefits.
    Section 3--Resolution/Limitation on Liability for Rescue 
Teams. This provision protects rescue team members and the 
employer of rescue team members from tort lawsuits based on 
injuries, deaths or property damage related to the carrying out 
of mine rescue operations, with an exception for gross 
negligence, reckless conduct or illegal conduct or in the event 
that the employer is the operator of the mine in which the 
rescue is taking place. The provision does not in any case 
reduce individuals' ability to avail themselves of workers' 
compensation under existing State regimes.
    Section 4--Rescue Teams. This provision requires the 
Secretary of Labor to issue new regulations on mine rescue 
teams within 18 months. These will require that every mine make 
available two rescue teams which are well-trained, familiar 
with the operations of the particular mine, and which are 
located at rescue stations within 1 hour of the mine. At the 
same time, the regulations will preserve systems that are 
currently working, such as consortium teams, ``co-op'' and 
leased teams and State teams.
    Section 5--Prompt Incident Notification. This provision 
codifies the recent MSHA emergency regulation which requires 
that operators make notification of all incidents/accidents 
which pose a reasonable risk of death within 15 minutes of when 
the operator realizes an accident has occurred. It would fix a 
minimum civil penalty of $5,000, up to $60,000 (which is the 
current maximum) for failure to do so.
    Section 6--Strengthening of Mine Research National 
Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.
           Permanent Office of Mine Safety and Health: 
        Establishes a permanent Office of Mine Safety and 
        Health within NIOSH to enhance the development of new 
        mine safety technology and expedite its commercial 
        availability and implementation in mines.
           Grants and Contracts for New Technology: 
        Establishes a competitive grant program to be 
        administered by NIOSH. The grant program would provide 
        capital and incentives to encourage the development and 
        manufacture of mine safety equipment that might not 
        otherwise be produced because of the limited potential 
        market.
           NIOSH-chaired interagency working group: 
        Establishes an interagency working group to provide a 
        formal means of sharing non-classified technology with 
        applicability to mine safety and accident/incident 
        management. In addition to NIOSH, the group could 
        include entities such as the National Aeronautics and 
        Space Administration [``NASA''], the Department of 
        Defense [``DOD''] and others as appropriate. The 
        working group would be chaired by NIOSH mining 
        personnel and would issue an annual report.
           Expedite Approval of New Technology: This 
        provision would streamline the approval and 
        certification process for new mine safety technology by 
        providing NIOSH with funding to enter into review and 
        testing contracts with third party laboratories.
    Section 7--Family Liaison Policy. This provision requires 
the Secretary to establish a policy of assigning an official to 
be liaison between MSHA and the families of victims of mine 
tragedies. It also would direct MSHA to be as responsive as 
possible to victims' families' requests for information 
relating to mine accidents and direct MSHA to be the primary 
communicator to operators, miners' families, the press and the 
public in mine accident cases.
    Section 8--Penalties. This provision raises the maximum 
civil penalty for flagrant violations to the amount proposed by 
the Administration, $220,000. The term flagrant violation is 
defined as a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable 
efforts to eliminate a known violation of a standard that 
substantially and proximately caused, or reasonably could have 
been expected to cause, death or serious bodily injury. Itwould 
also impose a minimum fine of $2,000 for violations of section 
104(d)(1) and a minimum fine of $4,000 for violations of section 
104(d)(2). This section also directs the Secretary to finalize 
regulations revising the penalties structure by December 31, 2006. This 
provision would also codify in the Mine Safety and Health Act a tenfold 
increase in the criminal penalty cap to $250,000 for first offenses and 
$500,000 for second offenses, which is the applicable amount pursuant 
to the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1984.
    Section 9--Fine Collections and Injunctions. This provision 
gives MSHA the power to seek an injunction (shutting down a 
mine) in cases where the mine has refused to pay an MSHA 
penalty.
    Section 10--Sealing of Abandoned Areas. This provision 
requires the Secretary to issue final regulations strengthening 
the required standard for seals of abandoned areas within 18 
months of the date of enactment or issuance of the MSHA report 
on Sago.
    Section 11--Technical Study Panel on Belt Air. This 
provision establishes a Technical Study Panel to provide 
independent scientific and engineering review and comment with 
respect to the utilization of belt air and the possible use and 
integration of fire retardant belt components in underground 
coal mining. The panel will be made up of six individuals, four 
of which must hold masters or doctoral-level mining-related 
degrees and who are not current employees of any coal or other 
mine, or of any labor organization, or of any State or Federal 
agency primarily devoted to regulating the mining industry. Two 
panelists would be selected by the Secretary of Labor (in 
consultation with MSHA), two by the Secretary of Health and 
Human Services (in consultation with NIOSH), and two by 
Congress (one by majority, one by minority). The panel will 
report back to the respective Secretaries and Congress within 1 
year of enactment. Within 180 days of receipt of this report, 
the Secretary of Labor is required to inform the Senate HELP 
Committee and House Education and Workforce Committee of what, 
if any, actions she intends to take based upon the report, 
including proposing regulatory changes, and the reasons 
therefore. If the panel finds it useful, it may coordinate with 
NIOSH to make use of NIOSH's research resources, such as the 
NIOSH test mine.
    Section 12--Mine Safety Scholarships. This provision 
addresses the anticipated shortage in trained and experienced 
miners and MSHA enforcement staff by creating a college, 
community college, and graduate level scholarship program 
available to miners and those who wish to become miners and 
MSHA enforcement staff.
    Section 13--Refuge Chambers. This provision requires the 
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to conduct 
research--including field tests in their underground mine--on 
the use of refuge chambers in underground coal mines. Within 
180 days of receipt of this report on this research, the 
Secretary of Labor is required to inform the Senate HELP 
Committee and House Education and Workforce Committee of what, 
if any, actions she intends to take based upon the report, 
including proposing regulatory changes, and the reasons 
therefore.
    Section 14--Brookwood--Sago Mine Safety Grants. Establishes 
a program to provide training grants to better identify, avoid 
and prevent unsafe working conditions in and around mines. 
These grants will be made on an annual, competitive basis to 
provide education and training programs or to develop training 
materials for employers and miners about safety and health 
topics in the mines, as selected by MSHA, with a special 
emphasis on smaller mines, including training miners and 
employers about new MSHA standards, high risk activities or 
hazards identified by MSHA.

                      IX. Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with rule XXVI paragraph 12 of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, the following provides a print of the 
statute or the part or section thereof to be amended or 
replaced (existing law proposed to be omitted is enclosed in 
black brackets, new matter is printed in italic, existing law 
in which no change is proposed is shown in roman):

FEDERAL MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT OF 1977

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



                            TITLE I--GENERAL


                 MANDATORY SAFETY AND HEALTH STANDARDS

    Sec. 101. (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


             INSPECTIONS, INVESTIGATIONS, AND RECORDKEEPING

    Sec. 103. (a) * * *
    (j) In the event of any accident occurring in any coal or 
other mine, the operator shall notify the Secretary thereof and 
shall take appropriate measures to prevent the destruction of 
any evidence which would assist in investigating the cause or 
causes thereof. For purposes of the preceding sentence, the 
notification required shall be provided by the operator within 
15 minutes of the time at which the operator realizes that the 
death of an individual at the mine, or an injury or entrapment 
of an individual at the mine which has a reasonable potential 
to cause death, has occurred. In the event of any accident 
occurring in a coal or other mine, where rescue and recovery 
work is necessary, the Secretary or an authorized 
representative of the Secretary shall take whatever action he 
deems appropriate to protect the life of any person, and he 
may, if he deems it appropriate, supervise and direct the 
rescue and recovery activities in such mine.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                              INJUNCTIONS

    Sec. 108. (a)(1) The Secretary may institute a civil action 
for relief, including a permanent or temporary injunction, 
restraining order, or any other appropriate order in the 
district court of the United States for the district in which a 
coal or other mine is located or in which the operator of such 
mine has his principal office, whenever such operator or his 
agent--
          (A) violates or fails or refuses to comply with any 
        order or decision issued under this Act, or fails or 
        refuses to comply with any order or decision, including 
        a civil penalty assessment order, that is issued under 
        this Act,

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                               PENALTIES

    Sec. 110. (a) [The operator] (1) The operator of a coal or 
other mine in which a violation occurs of a mandatory health or 
safety standard or who violates any other provisions of this 
Act, shall be assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary which 
penalty shall not be more than $50,000 for each such violation. 
Each occurrence of a violation of a mandatory health or safety 
standard may constitute a separate offense.
    (2) The operator of a coal or other mine who fails to 
provide timely notification to the Secretary as required under 
section 103(j) (relating to the 15 minute requirement) shall be 
assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary of not less than 
$5,000 and not more than $60,000.
    (3) Any operator who willfully violates a mandatory health 
or safety standard, or knowingly violates or fails or refuses 
to comply with any order issued under section 104 and section 
107, or any order incorporated in a final decision issued under 
this title, except an order incorporated in a decision under 
paragraph (1) or section 105(c), shall, upon conviction, be 
punished by a fine of not more than $250,000, or by 
imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both, except 
that if the conviction is for a violation committed after the 
first conviction of such operator under this Act, punishment 
shall be by a fine of not more than $500,000, or by 
imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.
    (4)(A) The minimum penalty for any citation or order issued 
under section 104(d)(1) shall be $2,000.
    (B) The minimum penalty for any order issued under section 
104(d)(2) shall be $4,000.
    (5) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to 
prevent an operator from obtaining a review, in accordance with 
section 106, of an order imposing a penalty described in this 
subsection. If a court, in making such review, sustains the 
order, the court shall apply at least the minimum penalties 
required under this subsection.
    (b) Any operator who fails to correct a violation for which 
a citation has been issued under section 104(a) within the 
period permitted for its correction may be assessed a civil 
penalty of not more than $5,000 for each day during which such 
failure or violation continues. Violations under this section 
that are deemed to be flagrant may be assessed a civil penalty 
of not more than $220,000. For purposes of the preceding 
sentence, the term ``flagrant'' with respect to a violation 
means a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts 
to eliminate a known violation of a mandatory health or safety 
standard that substantially and proximately caused, or 
reasonably could have been expected to cause, death or serious 
bodily injury.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                  MANDATORY HEALTH AND SAFETY TRAINING

    Sec. 115. (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (e)(1) Within 180 days after the effective date of the 
Federal Mine Safety and Health Amendments Act of 1977, the 
Secretary shall publish proposed regulations which shall 
provide that mine rescue teams shall be available for rescue 
and recovery work to each underground coal or other mine in the 
event of an emergency. The costs of making advance arrangements 
for such teams shall be borne by the operator of each such 
mine.
    (2)(A) The Secretary shall issue regulations with regard to 
mine rescue teams which shall be finalized and in effect not 
later than 18 months after the date of enactment of the Mine 
Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006.
    (B) Such regulations shall provide for the following:
          (i) That such regulations shall not be construed to 
        waive operator training requirements applicable to 
        existing mine rescue teams.
          (ii) That the Mine Safety and Health Administration 
        shall establish, and update every 5 years thereafter, 
        criteria to certify the qualifications of mine rescue 
        teams.
          (iii)(I) That the operator of each underground coal 
        mine with more than 36 employees--
                  (aa) have an employee knowledgeable in mine 
                emergency response who is employed at the mine 
                on each shift at each underground mine; and
                  (bb) make available two certified mine rescue 
                teams whose members--
                          (AA) are familiar with the operations 
                        of such coal mine;
                          (BB) participate at least annually in 
                        two local mine rescue contests;
                          (CC) participate at least annually in 
                        mine rescue training at the underground 
                        coal mine covered by the mine rescue 
                        team; and
                          (DD) are available at the mine within 
                        one hour ground travel time from the 
                        mine rescue station.
          (II)(aa) For the purpose of complying with subclause 
        (I), an operator shall employ one team that is either 
        an individual mine site mine rescue team or a composite 
        team as provided for in item (bb)(BB).
          (bb) The following options may be used by an operator 
        to comply with the requirements of item (aa):
                  (AA) An individual mine-site mine rescue 
                team.
                  (BB) A multi-employer composite team that is 
                made up of team members who are knowledgeable 
                about the operations and ventilation of the 
                covered mines and who train on a semi-annual 
                basis at the covered underground coal mine--
                          (aaa) which provides coverage for 
                        multiple operators that have team 
                        members which include at least two 
                        active employees from each of the 
                        covered mines;
                          (bbb) which provides coverage for 
                        multiple mines owned by the same 
                        operator which members include at least 
                        two active employees from each mine; or
                          (ccc) which is a State-sponsored mine 
                        rescue team comprised of at least two 
                        active employees from each of the 
                        covered mines.
                  (CC) A commercial mine rescue team provided 
                by contract through a third-party vendor or 
                mine rescue team provided by another coal 
                company, if such team--
                          (aaa) trains on a quarterly basis at 
                        covered underground coal mines;
                          (bbb) is knowledgeable about the 
                        operations and ventilation of the 
                        covered mines; and
                          (ccc) is comprised of individuals 
                        with a minimum of 3 years underground 
                        coal mine experience that shall have 
                        occurred within the 10-year period 
                        preceding their employment on the 
                        contract mine rescue team.
                  (DD) A State-sponsored team made up of State 
                employees.
          (iv) That the operator of each underground coal mine 
        with 36 or less employees shall--
                  (I) have an employee on each shift who is 
                knowledgeable in mine emergency responses; and
                  (II) make available two certified mine rescue 
                teams whose members--
                          (aa) are familiar with the operations 
                        of such coal mine;
                          (bb) participate at least annually in 
                        two local mine rescue contests;
                          (cc) participate at least 
                        semiannually in mine rescue training at 
                        the underground coal mine covered by 
                        the mine rescue team;
                          (dd) are available at the mine within 
                        one hour ground travel time from the 
                        mine rescue station;
                          (ee) are knowledgeable about the 
                        operations and ventilation of the 
                        covered mines; and
                          (ff) are comprised of individuals 
                        with a minimum of 3 years underground 
                        coal mine experience that shall have 
                        occurred within the 10-year period 
                        preceding their employment on the 
                        contract mine rescue team.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SEC. 116. LIMITATION ON CERTAIN LIABILITY FOR RESCUE OPERATIONS.

    (a) In General.--No person shall bring an action against 
any covered individual or his or her regular employer for 
property damage or an injury (or death) sustained as a result 
of carrying out activities relating to mine accident rescue or 
recovery operations. This subsection shall not apply where the 
action that is alleged to result in the property damages or 
injury (or death) was the result of gross negligence, reckless 
conduct, or illegal conduct or, where the regular employer (as 
such term is used in this Act) is the operator of the mine at 
which the rescue activity takes place. Nothing in this section 
shall be construed to preempt State workers' compensation laws.
    (b) Covered Individual.--For purposes of subsection (a), 
the term ``covered individual'' means an individual--
          (1) who is a member of a mine rescue team or who is 
        otherwise a volunteer with respect to a mine accident; 
        and
          (2) who is carrying out activities relating to mine 
        accident rescue or recovery operations.
    (c) Regular Employer.--For purposes of subsection (a), the 
term ``regular employer'' means the entity that is the covered 
employee's legal or statutory employer pursuant to applicable 
State law.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


              COMMUNICATIONS AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLANS

    Sec. 316. [Telephone] (a) In General.--Telephone service or 
equivalent two-way communication facilities, approved by the 
Secretary or his authorized representative, shall be provided 
between the surface and each landing of main shafts and slopes 
and between the surface and each working section of any coal 
mine that is more than one hundred feet from a portal.
    (b) Accident Preparedness and Response.--
          (1) In general.--Each underground coal mine operator 
        shall carry out on a continuing basis a program to 
        improve accident preparedness and response at each 
        mine.
          (2) Response and preparedness plan.--
                  (A) In general.--Not later than 60 days after 
                the date of enactment of the Mine Improvement 
                and New Emergency Response Act of 2006, each 
                underground coal mine operator shall develop 
                and adopt a written accident response plan that 
                complies with this subsection with respect to 
                each mine of the operator, and periodically 
                update such plans to reflect changes in 
                operations in the mine, advances in technology, 
                or other relevant considerations. Each such 
                operator shall make the accident response plan 
                available to the miners and the miners' 
                representatives.
                  (B) Plan requirements.--An accident response 
                plan under subparagraph (A) shall--
                          (i) provide for the evacuation of all 
                        individuals endangered by an emergency; 
                        and
                          (ii) provide for the maintenance of 
                        individuals trapped underground in the 
                        event that miners are not able to 
                        evacuate the mine.
                  (C) Plan approval.--The accident response 
                plan under subparagraph (A) shall be subject to 
                review and approval by the Secretary. In 
                determining whether to approve a particular 
                plan the Secretary shall take into 
                consideration all comments submitted by miners 
                or their representatives. Approved plans 
                shall--
                          (i) afford miners a level of safety 
                        protection at least consistent with the 
                        existing standards, including standards 
                        mandated by law and regulation;
                          (ii) reflect the most recent credible 
                        scientific research;
                          (iii) be technologically feasible, 
                        make use of current commercially 
                        available technology, and account for 
                        the specific physical characteristics 
                        of the mine; and
                          (iv) reflect the improvements in mine 
                        safety gained from experience under 
                        this Act and other worker safety and 
                        health laws.
                  (D) Plan review.--The accident response plan 
                under subparagraph (A) shall be reviewed 
                periodically, but at least every 6 months, by 
                the Secretary. In such periodic reviews, the 
                Secretary shall consider all comments submitted 
                by miners or miners' representatives and 
                intervening advancements in science and 
                technology that could be implemented to enhance 
                miners' ability to evacuate or otherwise 
                survive in an emergency.
                  (E) Plan content-general requirements.--To be 
                approved under subparagraph (C), an accident 
                response plan shall include the following:
                          (i) Post-accident communications.--
                        The plan shall provide for a redundant 
                        means of communication with the surface 
                        for persons underground, such as 
                        secondary telephone or equivalent two-
                        way communication.
                          (ii) Post-accident tracking.--
                        Consistent with commercially available 
                        technology and with the physical 
                        constraints, if any, of the mine, the 
                        plan shall provide for above ground 
                        personnel to determine the current, or 
                        immediately pre-accident, location of 
                        all underground personnel. Any system 
                        so utilized shall be functional, 
                        reliable, and calculated to remain 
                        serviceable in a post-accident setting.
                          (iii) Post-accident breathable air.--
                        The plan shall provide for--
                                  (I) emergency supplies of 
                                breathable air for individuals 
                                trapped under-ground sufficient 
                                to maintain such individuals 
                                for a sustained period of time;
                                  (II) in addition to the 2 
                                hours of breathable air per 
                                miner required by law under the 
                                emergency temporary standard as 
                                of the day before the date of 
                                enactment of the Mine 
                                Improvement and New Emergency 
                                Response Act of 2006, caches of 
                                self-rescuers providing in the 
                                aggregate not less than 2 hours 
                                per miner to be kept in 
                                escapeways from the deepest 
                                work area to the surface at a 
                                distance of no further than an 
                                average miner could walk in 30 
                                minutes;
                                  (III) a maintenance schedule 
                                for checking the reliability of 
                                self rescuers, retiring older 
                                self-rescuers first, and 
                                introducing new self-rescuer 
                                technology, such as units with 
                                interchangeable air or oxygen 
                                cylinders not requiring doffing 
                                to replenish airflow and units 
                                with supplies of greater than 
                                60 minutes, as they are 
                                approved by the Administration 
                                and become available on the 
                                market; and
                                  (IV) training for each miner 
                                in proper procedures for 
                                donning self-rescuers, 
                                switching from one unit to 
                                another, and ensuring a proper 
                                fit.
                          (iv) Post-accident lifelines.--The 
                        plan shall provide for the use of 
                        flame-resistant directional lifelines 
                        or equivalent systems in escapeways to 
                        enable evacuation. The flame-resistance 
                        requirement of this clause shall apply 
                        upon the replacement of existing 
                        lifelines, or, in the case of lifelines 
                        in working sections, upon the earlier 
                        of the replacement of such lifelines or 
                        3 years after the date of enactment of 
                        the Mine Improvement and New Emergency 
                        Response Act of 2006.
                          (v) Training.--The plan shall provide 
                        a training program for emergency 
                        procedures described in the plan which 
                        will not diminish the requirements for 
                        mandatoryhealth and safety training 
currently required under section 115.
                          (vi) Local coordination.--The plan 
                        shall set out procedures for 
                        coordination and communication between 
                        the operator, mine rescue teams, and 
                        local emergency response personnel and 
                        make provisions for familiarizing local 
                        rescue personnel with surface functions 
                        that may be required in the course of 
                        mine rescue work.
                  (F) Plan content-specific requirements.--
                          (i) In general.--In addition to the 
                        content requirements contained in 
                        subparagraph (E), and subject to the 
                        considerations contained in 
                        subparagraph (C), the Secretary may 
                        make additional plan requirements with 
                        respect to any of the content matters.
                          (ii) Post accident communications.--
                        Not later than 3 years after the date 
                        of enactment of the Mine Improvement 
                        and New Emergency Response Act of 2006, 
                        a plan shall, to be approved, provide 
                        for post accident communication between 
                        underground and surface personnel via a 
                        wireless two-way medium, and provide 
                        for an electronic tracking system 
                        permitting surface personnel to 
                        determine the location of any persons 
                        trapped underground or set forth within 
                        the plan the reasons such provisions 
                        cannot be adopted. Where such plan sets 
                        forth the reasons such provisions can 
                        not be adopted, the plan shall also set 
                        forth the operator's alternative means 
                        of compliance. Such alternative shall 
                        approximate, as closely as possible, 
                        the degree of functional utility and 
                        safety protection provided by the 
                        wireless two-way medium and tracking 
                        system referred to in this subpart.
                  (G) Plan dispute resolution.--
                          (i) In general.--Any dispute between 
                        the Secretary and an operator with 
                        respect to the content of the 
                        operator's plan or any refusal by the 
                        Secretary to approve such a plan shall 
                        be resolved on an expedited basis.
                          (ii) Disputes.--In the event of a 
                        dispute or refusal described in clause 
                        (i), the Secretary shall issue a 
                        citation which shall be immediately 
                        referred to a Commission Administrative 
                        Law Judge. The Secretary and the 
                        operator shall submit all relevant 
                        material regarding the dispute to the 
                        Administrative Law Judge within 15 days 
                        of the date of the referral. The 
                        Administrative Law Judge shall render 
                        his or her decision with respect to the 
                        plan content dispute within 15 days of 
                        the receipt of the submission.
                          (iii) Further appeals.--A party 
                        adversely affected by a decision under 
                        clause (ii) may pursue all further 
                        available appeal rights with respect to 
                        the citation involved, except that 
                        inclusion of the disputed provision in 
                        the plan will not be limited by such 
                        appeal unless such relief is requested 
                        by the operator and permitted by the 
                        Administrative Law Judge.
                  (H) Maintaining protections for miners.--
                Notwithstanding any other provision of this 
                Act, nothing in this section, and no response 
                and preparedness plan developed under this 
                section, shall be approved if it reduces the 
                protection afforded miners by an existing 
                mandatory health or safety standard.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                        BLACK LUNG BENEFITS ACT


                        TITLE V--ADMINISTRATION


                                RESEARCH

    Sec. 501. (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    Sec. 513. * * *

SEC. 514. TECHNICAL STUDY PANEL.

    (a) Establishment.--There is established a Technical Study 
Panel (referred to in this section as the ``Panel'' which shall 
provide independent scientific and engineering review and 
recommendations with respect to the utilization of belt air and 
the composition and fire retardant properties of belt materials 
in underground coal mining.
    (b) Membership.--The Panel shall be composed of--
          (1) two individuals to be appointed by the Secretary 
        of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the 
        Director of the National Institute for Occupational 
        Safety and Health and the Associate Director of the 
        Office of Mine Safety;
          (2) two individuals to be appointed by the Secretary 
        of Labor, in consultation with the Assistant Secretary 
        for Mine Safety and Health; and
          (3) two individuals, one to be appointed jointly by 
        the majority leaders of the Senate and House of 
        Representatives and one to be appointed jointly by the 
        minority leader of the Senate and House of 
        Representatives, each to be appointed prior to the sine 
        die adjournment of the second session of the 109th 
        Congress.
    (c) Qualifications.--Four of the six individuals appointed 
to the Panel under subsection (b) shall possess a masters or 
doctoral level degree in mining engineering or another 
scientific field demonstrably related to the subject of the 
report. No individual appointed to the Panel shall be an 
employee of any coal or other mine, or of any labor 
organization, or of any State or Federal agency primarily 
responsible for regulating the mining industry.
    (d) Report.--
          (1) In general.--Not later than 1 year after the date 
        on which all members of the Panel are appointed under 
        subsection (b), the Panel shall prepare and submit to 
        the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and 
        Human Services, the Committee on Health, Education, 
        Labor, and Pensions of the Senate, and the Committee on 
        Education and the Workforce of the House of 
        Representatives a report concerning the utilization of 
        belt air and the composition and fire retardant 
        properties of belt materials in underground coal 
        mining.
          (2) Response by secretary.--Not later than 180 days 
        after the receipt of the report under paragraph (1), 
        the Secretary of Labor shall provide a response to the 
        Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of 
        the Senate and the Committee on Education and the 
        Workforce of the House of Representatives containing a 
        description of the actions, if any, that the Secretary 
        intends to take based upon the report, including 
        proposing regulatory changes, and the reasons for such 
        actions.
    (e) Compensation.--Members appointed to the panel, while 
carrying out the duties of the Panel shall be entitled to 
receive compensation, per diem in lieu of subsistence, and 
travel expenses in the same manner and under the same 
conditions as that prescribed under section 208(c) of the 
Public Health Service Act.

SEC. 515. SCHOLARSHIPS.

    (a) Establishment.--The Secretary of Education referred to 
in this section as the ``Secretary'', consultation with the 
Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Health and Human 
Services, shall establish a program to provide scholarships to 
eligible individuals to increase the killed workforce for both 
private sector coal mine operators and mine safety inspectors 
and other regulatory personnel for the Mine Safety and Health 
Administration.
    (b) Fundamental Skills Scholarships.--
          (1) In general.--Under the program under subsection 
        (a), the Secretary may award scholarship to fully or 
        partially pay the tuition costs of eligible individuals 
        enrolled in 2-year associate's degree programs at 
        community colleges or other colleges and universities 
        that focus on providing the fundamental skills and 
        training that is of immediate use to a beginning coal 
        miner.
          (2) Skills.--The skills described in paragraph (1) 
        shall include basic math, basic health and safety, 
        business principles, management and supervisory skills, 
        skills related to electric circuitry, skills related to 
        heavy equipment operations, and skills related to 
        communications.
          (3) Eligibility.--To be eligible to receive a 
        scholarship under this subsection an individual shall--
                  (A) have a high school diploma or a GED;
                  (B) have at least 2 years experience in full-
                time employment in mining or mining-related 
                activities;
                  (C) submit to the Secretary an application at 
                such time, in such manner, and containing such 
                information; and
                  (D) demonstrate an interest in working in the 
                field of mining and performing an internship 
                with the Mine Safety and Health Administration 
                or the National Institute for Occupational 
                Safety and Health Office of Mine Safety.
    (c) Mine Safety Inspector Scholarships.--
          (1) In general.--Under the program under subsection 
        (a), the Secretary may award scholarship to fully or 
        partially pay the tuition costs of eligible individuals 
        enrolled in undergraduate bachelor's degree programs at 
        accredited colleges or universities that provide the 
        skills needed to become mine safety inspectors.
          (2) Skills.--The skills described in paragraph (1) 
        include skills developed through programs leadingto a 
degree in mining engineering, civil engineering, mechanical 
engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, 
environmental engineering, industrial hygiene, occupational health and 
safety, geology, chemistry, or other fields of study related to mine 
safety and health work.
          (3) Eligibility.--To be eligible to receive a 
        scholarship under this subsection an individual shall--
                  (A) have a high school diploma or a GED;
                  (B) have at least 5 years experience in full-
                time employment in mining or mining-related 
                activities;
                  (C) submit to the Secretary an application at 
                such time, in such manner, and containing such 
                information; and
                  (D) agree to be employed for a period of at 
                least 5 years at the Mine Safety and Health 
                Administration or, to repay, on a pro-rated 
                basis, the funds received under this program, 
                plus interest, at a rate established by the 
                Secretary upon the issuance of the scholarship.
    (d) Advanced Research Scholarships.--
          (1) In General.--Under the program under subsection 
        (a), the Secretary may award scholarships to fully or 
        partially pay the tuition costs of eligible individuals 
        enrolled in undergraduate bachelor's degree, masters 
        degree, and Ph.D. degree programs at accredited 
        colleges or universities that provide the skills needed 
        to augment and advance research in mine safety and to 
        broaden, improve, and expand the universe of candidates 
        for mine safety inspector and other regulatory 
        positions in the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
          (2) Skills.--The skills described in paragraph (1) 
        include skills developed through programs leading to a 
        degree in mining engineering, civil engineering, 
        mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, 
        industrial engineering, environmental engineering, 
        industrial hygiene, occupational health and safety, 
        geology, chemistry, or other fields of study related to 
        mine safety and health work.
          (3) Eligibility.--To be eligible to receive a 
        scholarship under this subsection an individual shall--
                  (A) have a bachelor's degree or equivalent 
                from an accredited 4-year institution;
                  (B) have at least 5 years experience in full-
                time employment in underground mining or 
                mining-related activities; and
                  (C) submit to the Secretary an application at 
                such time, in such manner, and containing such 
                information.
    (e) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized 
to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out 
this section. 

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT OF 1970

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         NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH

    Sec. 22. (a) * * *

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    (g) Lead-Based Paint Activities.--
          (1) Training grant program.--(A) * * *

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    (h) Office of Mine Safety and Health.--
          (1) In General.--There shall be permanently 
        established within the Institute an Office of Mine 
        Safety and Health which shall be administered by an 
        Associate Director to be appointed by the Director.
          (2) Purpose.--The purpose of the Office is to enhance 
        the development of new mine safety technology and 
        technological applications and to expedite the 
        commercial availability and implementation of such 
        technology in mining environments.
          (3) Functions.--In addition to all purposes and 
        authorities provided for under this section, the Office 
        of Mine Safety and Health shall be responsible for 
        research, development, and testing of new technologies 
        and equipment designed to enhance mine safety and 
        health. To carry out such functions the Director of the 
        Institute, acting through the Office, shall have the 
        authority to--
                  (A) award competitive grants to institutions 
                and private entities to encourage the 
                development and manufacture of mine safety 
                equipment;
                  (B) award contracts to educational 
                institutions or private laboratories for the 
                performance of product testing or related work 
                with respect to new mine technology and 
                equipment; and
                  (C) establish an interagency working group as 
                provided for in paragraph (5).
          (4) Grant authority.--To be eligible to receive a 
        grant under the authority provided for under paragraph 
        (3)(A), an entity or institution shall--
                  (A) submit to the Director of the Institute 
                an application at such time, in such manner, 
                and containing such information as the Director 
                may require; and
                  (B) include in the application under 
                subparagraph (A), a description of the mine 
                safety equipment to be developed and 
                manufactured under the grant and a description 
                of the reasons that such equipment would 
                otherwise not be developed or manufactured, 
                including reasons relating to the limited 
                potential commercial market for such equipment.
          (5) Interagency working group.--
                  (A) Establishment.--The Director of the 
                Institute, in carrying out paragraph (3)(D) 
                shall establish an interagency working group to 
                share technology and technological research and 
                developments that could be utilized to enhance 
                mine safety and accident response.
                  (B) Membership.--The working group under 
                subparagraph (A) shall be chaired by the 
                Associate Director of the Office who shall 
                appoint the members of the working group, which 
                may include representatives of other Federal 
                agencies or departments as determined 
                appropriate by the Associate Director.
                  (C) Duties.--The working group under 
                subparagraph (A) shall conduct an evaluation of 
                research conducted by, and the technological 
                developments of, agencies and departments who 
                are represented on the working group that may 
                have applicability to mine safety and accident 
                response and make recommendations to the 
                Director for the further development and 
                eventual implementation of such technology.
          (6) Annual report.--Not later than 1 year after the 
        establishment of the Office under this subsection, and 
        annually thereafter, the Director of the Institute 
        shall submit to the Committee on Health, Education, 
        Labor, and Pensions of the Senate and the Committee on 
        Education and the Workforce of the House of 
        Representatives a report that, with respect to the year 
        involved, describes the new mine safety technologies 
        and equipment that have been studied, tested, and 
        certified for use, and with respect to those instances 
        of technologies and equipment that have been considered 
        but not yet certified for use, the reasons therefore.
          (7) Authorization of appropriations.--There is 
        authorized to be appropriated, such sums as may be 
        necessary to enable the Institute and the Office of 
        Mine Safety and Health to carry out this subsection.

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