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HEALTH AND SAFETY IN THE COAL MINES

FRIDAY, AUGUST 14, 1970

U.S. SENATE,

SUBCOMMITTEE ON LABOR
OF THE COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND PUBLIC WELFARE,

Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 9:40 a.m., pursuant to recess, in room 4232, New Senate Office Building, Senator Harrison A. Williams, Jr., of New Jersey (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Present: Senators Williams (presiding), Randolph, and Schweiker.

Committee staff present: Gerald M. Feder, associate counsel; Eugene Mittelman, minority counsel; and Richard D. Siegel, staff aide to Senator Schweiker.

Senator WILLIAMS. We will resume our legislative oversight hearings on enforcement of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969.

As I stated at our last hearing, there are several unresolved questions relating to the testimony of the Department of the Interior. I have asked the representatives of the Department who were here last week to return this morning accompanied by the Budget Officer. Representatives of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, who were here last week, were kind enough to return today.

I understand Under Secretary Russell has a brief statement he would like to make before we resume questioning. Before we do that, however, I have a short announcement to make.

First, on Thursday of last week we heard testimony from Mr. Ralph Nader. At that time Mr. Nader made several recommendations regarding enforcement of coal mine health and safety, including a recommendation that this subcommittee request the General Accounting Office to conduct an investigation into the Bureau of Mines' coal mine health and safety enforcement program.

As I noted at the time, I found this recommendation had a great deal of merit. Since that date, I formally requested the Comptroller General to conduct such an investigation. I am pleased to announce this morning that the General Accounting Office has agreed to undertake such an investigation and report back to this subcommittee if there are any recommendations that it deems appropriate.

I am placing copies of the correspondence in the hearing record at this point. (The material subsequently supplied follows :)

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The Honorable Elmer B. Staats
Comptroller General of the United States
General Accounting Office
441 G Street, N. W.
Washington, D. C.

Dear Mr. Staats:

This Subcommittee was instrumental in both the writing and enactment of the "Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969." Since the December 30, 1969 approval of this legislation, the Subcommittee has maintained close contact with the implementation of the health and safety provisions of this Act by the Department of the Interior and it's Bureau of Mines.

A number of serious deficiencies in the Department's program for the implementation of these provisions has come to the attention of the Subcommittee during the course of legislative oversight hearings. For example, serious questions have been raised about the Department's (1) ability to implement effectively the law's inspection requirements, (2) use of substantially increased appropriations, (3) development of effective research and training programs.

This enumeration only highlights some of the more serious issues.

It would be most helpful to the Subcommittee if the General Accounting Office would review the Department's actions and plans for implementation of the Act, and furnish the Subcommittee with a report on these activities, including any comments or recommendations you believe are appropriate.

Sincerely,

Harrison A. Williams, Jr.
Chairman
Subcommittee on Labor

HAW/ fc

RALH YAXBOROUGH, TOX, CHAIRMAN
DININGS RANDOLPH, W, VA. JACOB K. JAVITO, N.Y.
HARRISON A. WILLIAMS, JR., NJ. WINSTON L. PROUTY, V.
CLAIBORNE PELL, R.J.

PETER H. DOMINICK, COLO.
EDWARD M. KENNEDY, MASS. GEORGE MURPHY, CALIF.
GAYLORD NELSON, W19.

RICHARD S. SCHWEIKEA, PA
WALTER F. MONOALE, MINN, WILLIAM B. SAXBE, OHIO
THOMAS . EAGLETON, MO.

RALPH T. SMITH, ILL.
ALAN CRANSTON, CALIF.
HAROLD E. MUGHES, IOWA

United States Senate

COMMITTEE ON
LABOR AND PUBLIC WELFARE
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20510

RODERTO. HARRIS, STAFF DIRECTOR
JOHN S. FORSYTHE, GENERAL COUNSEL

August 14, 1970

The Honorable Elmer B. Staats
Comptroller General of the United States
General Accounting Office
441 G Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20235

Dear Mr. Staats:

In a prior letter, the Subcommittee on Labor requested the General Accounting Office to review the actions and plans of the Department of the Interior for implementation of the Federal Coal Mine Health & Safety Act of 1969 and report on these activities, including any comments or recommendations you believe are appropriate,

I am advised that in discussions with members of your Civil Division staff general agreement has been reached on this undertaking by your office. The Subcommittee appreciates your cooperation and assistance in the evaluation of this vital program.

Sincerely,

Harrison A. Williams, Jr.
Chairman
Subcommittee on Labor

HAW/ da

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