Wednesday, March 24, 2010

National Mining Association v. MSHA

Mar 19: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, Case No. 08-1241. The National Mining Association (NMA) and the Methane Awareness Resources Group (MARG) (hereinafter, together "industry") petition for review of the Mine Safety and Health Administration's (MSHA's) decision to enforce a final exposure limit standard addressing health risks presented by exposure of miners in metal and nonmetal underground mines to diesel particulate matter (DPM) in diesel exhaust. The decision, announced May 20, 2008, represented a change in MSHA's earlier expressed intent to issue a proposed rule to convert the final DPM exposure standard from a total carbon (TC) to an elemental carbon (EC) measurement. See Diesel Particulate Matter Exposure, Notice of Enforcement of DPM Final Limit and Withdrawal of Intent to Issue Proposed Rule, 73 Fed. Reg. 29,058 (May 20, 2008) (2008 Notice).
    On the same date, MSHA issued Program Policy Letter P08-IV-01 (2008 Policy Letter) describing how it intended to enforce the DPM standard. Industry contends MSHA's decision was arbitrary and capricious because it inadequately explained and was unsupported by scientific data, contrary to a 2002 settlement and to MSHA's statements to this court, and without public notice or opportunity to comment. MARG individually challenges the failure of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to release a study on DPM. 
    The Appeals Court denied the industry petitions and dismissed MARG's individual challenges for lack of jurisdiction. In this complex case, the Appeals Court challenges NMA's position on a number of fronts and says: "NMA's suggestion that MSHA's 'misrepresentations,' Pet'r NMA Br. 22, albeit unintentional, cast a cloud over the legitimacy of the DPM standard of 160 TC does not advance its position" ; "Industry is on no firmer ground in contending that the 2008 Notice's withdrawal of MSHA's rulemaking intent violated the terms of the 2002 Settlement arising from challenges to the 2001 Rule" ; ". . .industry repudiated the 2002 Settlement when it petitioned for review of the 2001 Rule in Kennecott. . . MSHA was no longer bound by the 2002 Settlement when it issued the 2008 Notice" ; "NMA is mistaken when it suggests that on the basis of the Noll-Bugarski Study, MSHA effectively 'repromulgated the 160 TC standard'" ; and "the 2008 Notice was not subject to APA notice and comment procedures."
    Access the complete opinion (click here).