U.S. Congress
United States of America

In 1946 a promise was made by Congress to the coal miners, as a direct result of the sweat and blood of generations of coal miners whose toil carried this Nation through war and peace, through the Industrial and the Technological Revolutions.

A promise of cradle to grave health care that manifested itself into the 1992 Coal Act. And a promise made in 1977 to coalfield citizens and communities as a result of the ravages of past abuses, and on the souls of the 118 individuals who perished in 1972 at Buffalo Creek in Logan County, West Virginia.

A promise to reclaim their devastated landscapes, to return their land to productive uses, and to protect their health and safety that is part and parcel of the landmark Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.

The Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program has been a success. Unlike the Superfund, this program has a track record of real, on-the-ground progress in restoring lands and eliminating health and safety threats. And since 1992, through the transfer of just the interest which accrues to the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to the Combined Benefit Fund, it has provided health care for tens of thousands of elderly retired coal miners whose former employers can no longer be identified.

The nexus is there. The welfare of abandoned miners and of reclaiming abandoned mines, you see, go hand in hand. To date, the promise has been kept.

Yet, in June of 2005 the fees assessed on the coal industry which finances this effort expire.

If legislation is passed it will keep the promise to some 50,000 retired coal miners that their health care will continue uninterrupted.

Recently the passage of such legislation has shown dire importance, especially in the states of Kentucky, West Virginia and Illinois where On Aug. 31, 2004 in Lexington, KY, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge William Howard finalized the decision allowing Horizon Natural Resources to file bankruptcy, thus voiding union contracts providing health care coverage for nearly 3,000 employees, including 2,300 retirees -- many of whom suffer from black lung as a result of their working years at Horizon. For many of these miners their only hope for health care coverage will be the passage of such legislation.

I urge you and your constituents to move promptly and vote for the passage legislation that would KEEP THE PROMISE TO THE COAL MINERS and to fully understand that thousands of coal miners and retirees futures are hanging in the balance of your decision.

Coal miners and their families, along with countless others who support those miners, will use this issue to evaluate your commitment to working families in America. I await your prompt response.

Unless legislation is passed thousands of retired coal miners could lose their health care.

Keep the Promise to the Coal Miners!

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The Keep the Promise to the Coal Miners petition to U.S. Congress was written by Matt Alley and is in the category Government at GoPetition.