Republican Senator Rand Paul has made it repeatedly clear that he sides with businesses when it comes to absolutely any sort of financial policy or regulation — be it taxes or toilets. Still, even his own home state of Kentucky seemed somewhat shocked when he stated that there is no reason to continue with any policies to help decrease the instances of black lung among coal miners, declaring any intervention or government regulation too “burdensome” on companies in comparison to the amount of lives it could potentially save.
The Courier-Journal reports:
Sen. Rand Paul questioned the need Thursday for new federal new coal-mining rules to reduce black-lung disease, despite federal figures showing the illness has been on the rise in recent years, killing about 1,500 miners annually.
The Kentucky Republican, a frequent critic of government regulations, said during a Senate hearing that black-lung rates had dropped dramatically since 1969, when a law to combat the illness took effect.
“Every regulation doesn’t save lives,” Paul said at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “There is a point or a balancing act between when a regulation becomes burdensome and our energy production is stifled. We have to assess the cost.”
Paul said during the hearing that the government had done “a pretty good job” in recent decades of reducing the incidence of black lung — an often incurable and fatal disease caused by breathing years of coal dust.
But figures from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health show a spike in black lung rates in recent years.
Black lung kills approximately 1000 miners per year, and the number of cases have doubled since 1995, when the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act was repealed. According to the paper, Paul received $136,277 in campaign contributions from mining interests during his senate run.
How high do the deaths need to rise before Paul finds the cost of additional regulation to be worth the number of lives it could save?