Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Governor Fletcher Announces Mine Safety Initiatives

Press Release Date:  Thursday, January 26, 2006  
Contact Information:  Brett Hall
Jodi Whitaker
Troy Body

Mark York

Governor urges bipartisan support of issues

FRANKFORT, Ky.  – Governor Ernie Fletcher today announced a series of initiatives designed to improve mine safety in Kentucky. Governor Fletcher called upon all legislators to support safety improvements.

“We are seeking legislation to require mines to contain cache oxygen self-rescuers, effective two-way communications and follow improved accident reporting criteria,” Governor Fletcher said. “Miner safety depends on a strong regulatory program and a strong commitment from companies, operators and miners.”

Governor Fletcher also announced the introduction of legislation to keep mines free from risks associated with drug and alcohol abuse.  The bill will require mandatory substance abuse testing for the certification of Kentucky miners.

Sen. Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) has agreed to sponsor the substance abuse bill.

“This bill should put Kentucky at the forefront of keeping coal mines drug and alcohol free,” Sen. Stivers said.

The mine safety legislation will also expand the use of penalties and fines with regards to roof control and ventilation plan violations. Under the proposal, the commissioner of the Department for Natural Resources will have the authority to levy civil penalties and fines.

Governor Fletcher also said mine operators will be required to develop emergency action plans.  These plans will ensure appropriate personnel, equipment and supplies on-site, and coordinated during a mine emergency.

“It is imperative that we bring all parties to the table to review and revisit these issues,” said Rep. Robin Webb (D-Grayson). “The lives of thousands of Kentucky coal miners are at stake. It’s their hard work that keeps the lights and heat on for Kentucky.”