After the Kentucky General Assembly cut the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing budget by more than $4 million, Governor Steve Beshear is mandating it to restructure. The office will become the Division of Mine Safety under the Department of Natural Resources effective June 1.
Lawmakers have also reduced the number of mine safety inspections, which concerns Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesperson Dick Brown.
“Leaders in the General Assembly who agreed with this budget cut have been quoted as saying that there are fewer mines operating, less coal being produced and fewer miners who are actually in the mines therefore the cuts wouldn’t have that much an effect on mine safety,” Brown said. “We disagree. If a mine is open, it may not be producing coal but it still has to be inspected.”
He adds that the cuts in both money and inspections are causes 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,” Brown said.
Any news regarding potential layoffs will come next week after meeting with mine safety office employees, Brown says.