As concerns about mine safety are raised after an explosion in a Turkish coal mine killed more than 200 miners, Kentucky mine safety officials are doing their best to keep Kentucky miners safe as they cope with a 38 percent cut in state funding.
Gov. Beshear requested $29.5 million in funding for the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing. That amount will be cut to $21 million when the budget is enacted July 1. Dick Brown of the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing says the $8.5 million in cuts will lead to the elimination of 50 positions across the state and cut annual mine safety inspections from six to four. The cuts, approved as part of the biennial budget, also mean less safety training for miners.
“We’re going to have to be judicious in how we approach this,” Brown said, “and make sure, number one, that miners are as safe as we can possibly make them and that we can effectively keep them safe.”
Brown expects a cut to the number of mine safety rescue teams as well. Danny Knott, coordinator of the KCTCS Mine Rescue Team in Madisonville, said his rescue team will see no impact from the budget cuts as it receives private funding from coal companies.