January 18, 2023 - The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a notice of proposed rulemaking by its Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs to revise regulations governing the standards related to self-insurance by coal mine operators.
The proposed rule would update the standards coal operators must meet to self-insure, modernize and streamline the application process and fix the amount of security applicants must post. The proposed rule would also clarify acceptable forms of security and establish an appeals process.
The proposed changes would reduce the expense to taxpayers by ensuring that operators, rather than taxpayers, bear responsibility for paying benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act benefits. The coal mining industry would benefit by providing greater transparency and clarity to mine operators about the procedures and standards for obtaining self-insurance authorization. In addition, the proposed changes would better protect the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund by reducing its liabilities for under-secured operators who go bankrupt.
OWCP encourages the public and other stakeholders to submit written comments to participate in the process of developing a final rule. Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted by March 20, 2023.