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Bills Aim to Help Miners with Black Lung and Surviving Family Access Benefits

A painting of boots, a hat and other gear used by coal miners.

Miners with black lung disease face a difficult process to obtain modest benefits, as do their widows. Two bills in Congress aim to help miners with the disease and their bereaved families, including by tying benefit levels to inflation.

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Confronting Rising Black Lung

Amid an ongoing surge in severe black lung disease among coal miners, federal lawmakers have introduced a number of bills aimed at assisting affected miners and their families. The Inflation Reduction Act shored up funding for benefits, and advocates are pushing for additional measures.

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Black Lung Benefit Fund Would See Major Boost from Change to Coal Tax

five miners wearing shirts that say Black Lung Kills gather around a notepad

Changing the structure of a tax that funds federal benefits for miners could bring tens of millions of dollars annually to the cash-strapped Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.

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Tighter silica rules needed to protect miners from black lung disease

chart shows how MSHA allows twice as much silica dust exposure as other agencies

Coal miners are legally allowed to be exposed to twice as much dangerous silica dust as any other worker. That needs to change.

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Congress includes one-year extension of black lung excise tax in omnibus spending bill

A one-year extension of the excise tax that funds the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is included in the 2021 omnibus spending bill. This is the second year in a row that a one-year extension has been included in the

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Federal negligence allowed coal companies to shrug off their responsibility for black lung benefits

For decades, coal companies ignored a federal requirement to provide enough funds for black lung benefits — and the government let them.

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Progress on healthcare for miners with black lung disease

black lung demonstration

Congress reinstated a tax to fund healthcare and benefits for miners with black lung and their families for 2020 — but further action is needed to extend the tax and support the fund for 10 years.

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Intro: The Legacies of Coal

abandoned mine portal

As Appalachia’s coal industry continues to decline, the scale of the damage it has cas becomes even more apparent.

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Blackjewel’s black lung problem

black and white graphic with skeleton wearing miner hat, text reads "black lung kills"

Bankrupt coal company Blackjewel owes nearly $10 million in taxes to the fund that provides benefits to miners with black lung disease whose employer has gone bankrupt.

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Calling on Legislators for Action in Washington, D.C.

In July, Appalachian Voices traveled to Capitol Hill alongside about 150 miners, widows and their loved ones to demand Congress to restore proper funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. And in June, we joined other organizations in a visit to D.C. to ask legislators to co-sponsor the RECLAIM Act to fast-track abandoned mine reclamation.

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