News of the week
Groups ask Congress to extend Black Lung Excise Tax
This past week, a coalition of 68 organizations sent a letter to congressional leadership urging lawmakers to make a long-term extension to the Black Lung Excise Tax.
Black lung, also called miner’s pneumoconiosis, is an occupational disease of coal miners. It is a hazard of both underground and surface mines and is caused by breathing in coal dust over a long period of time, ten years or more. Lungs with miner’s pneumoconiosis turn a dark blue or black, hence the name. Coal may not be the only culprit, as silica dust also occurs in coal mines. Symptoms include chest pains, wheezing, and coughing that brings up phlegm. The lives of some miners are shortened by the disease.
With the passage of the Black Lung Benefits Act in 1977, Congress enacted an excise tax on domestically produced coal to compensate miners with black lung disease. The monies collected by the tax are deposited in the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which finances the miners’ compensation.