We have all been paying attention to the looming legislation intended to amend the Mine Safety and Health Act (HR 5663). By now, everyone has heard the arguments for and against the amendments so I don’t know that we need to rehash them here.
There is one provision of the bill that is particularly astonishing to me, and that is the new section on subpoenas. MSHA’s current subpoena authority is quite limited. MSHA is only authorized to issue subpoenas in connection with the holding of a public hearing which, in turn, can only be held after notice is published in the Federal Register. In contrast, OSHA has virtually unfettered subpoena authority, allowing it to subpoena witnesses and documents essentially at will, subject, to review by a U.S. District Court if the subpoenaed party refuses to comply. MSHA has long sought the same authority, claiming there’s no good reason why OSHA should have more subpoena authority than it has. Not surprisingly, I think differently. Here’s why.
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Reprinted with permission from Coal Age Magazine.