Regulatory roulette: The Congressional Review Act comes around again

By Willa B. Perlmutter So, this column is going to be a little different from my usual observations about what MSHA is doing these days. Given the super-charged political climate and the fact that my Washington D.C. roots go very deep, I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s going to happen in November – and what it could mean for…

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No time to put your head in the sand –  MSHA and failure-to-abate orders

Lately I’ve been giving some thought to what MSHA considers “enhanced enforcement,” which really refers to enforcement actions that MSHA takes against a mine operator beyond the § 104(a) citations that are the most frequent result of a mine inspection. (We call them “§ 104(a) citations” because the authority for issuing them comes from § 104(a) of the Mine Act.…

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Muddy waters: Who needs a discharge permit under the Clean Water Act?

By Joe C. Matteo and Willa B. Perlmutter Have you ever wondered if polluted water that leaks from a settling pond into groundwater and eventually reaches a river is a “discrete” source of pollution? Or why it matters? You can likely envision a scenario where a mining operation has settling ponds that leak into groundwater before eventually entering a waterway.…

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When life hands you an imminent danger order, pay attention

By Willa B. Perlmutter One of my very favorite clients recently sustained a self-inflicted and completely avoidable (and expensive) wound. Since I can’t go back and prevent it from happening, I hope that maybe I can keep the rest of you from falling into the same trap. Let’s talk about what happened. One morning, I received an email from my…

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It’s here! It’s finally here! MSHA’s proposed rule on silica exposure

By Willa B. Perlmutter Here’s a fun fact. Going back as early as 1998, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has promised the mining industry it would issue a rule that addresses workplace exposures to respirable crystalline silica at mine sites around the country. (By “rule,” I really mean “regulation.” In other words, a binding requirement issued under…

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Wait…What? A Potentially Dangerous Development in § 105(c) Retaliation Cases 

By Willa B. Perlmutter In my last column, I talked about a coming shift in the analysis the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission will use when it considers retaliation cases brought by the Secretary of Labor or by miners under § 105(c) of the Mine Act.  For those of you that missed that column, here’s the deal: until…

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The more things change, the more they remain the same…maybe

By Willa B. Perlmutter A couple of weeks ago, I attended a conference on occupational safety and health law sponsored by the American Bar Association for lawyers from the government, labor and private employers. (Admit it. The idea of hanging out with a bunch of lawyers for five days in a hotel ballroom thrills you, doesn’t it?) The first day…

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The Sixth Circuit and Advance Notice – The Cavalry Never Showed Up After All

By Willa B. Perlmutter In my very first column for this publication, I wrote about the KenAmerican Resources case that was then pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, based in Cincinnati. At the time, I wrote that I hoped the Sixth Circuit would take the opportunity to provide much-needed guidance on what exactly “advance notice”…

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