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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A Sword and a Shield: Workplace Examinations Under the New § 56/57.18002

By Willa B. Perlmutter In my last column, I talked about MSHA’s plan to issue a new rule requiring surface mine operators to develop and implement written programs that would improve mobile equipment safety. The comment period closed in February and, at this writing, about a month later, MSHA hasn’t yet tipped its hand as to what, if anything, it…

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MSHA’s Proposed Mobile Haulage Rule – Let’s Look Under This Baby’s Hood

By Willa B. Perlmutter The latest big development in the MSHA regulatory space is a proposed rule that would require mine operators to develop and implement written programs that focus on improving the safety of surface mobile equipment. Back in 2018, because of the disproportionately high contribution of mobile equipment to mine fatalities, MSHA asked for input so it could…

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