After the Kentucky General Assembly cut the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing budget by more than four million, Governor Steve Beshear is ordering it to restructure. Effective this Sunday, the office will become the Division of Mine Safety under the Department of Natural Resources. Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesperson Dick Brown says the budget cuts and the General Assembly’s reduction of mine inspections are cause for concern.
“Gov. Beshear and Energy Secretary [Leonard] Peters both had warned the General Assembly that any drastic cuts such as this could have a negative effect on mine safety, and that is our main concern, of course, is making sure that miners are in the mines and that they are safe and go home at night to their families,” said Brown.
Brown says although there has been a recent drop in coal production, the mines are still open and require inspections and oversight. He says any news regarding potential layoffs will come next week after meeting with mine safety office employees.
A published report says state investigators found few problems at a Harlan County mine where federal investigators found enough violations during a surprise safety blitz in May to shut the mine down for nine days.