Fighting for you in Washington, D.C.
The UMWA is engaged in the nation’s capital on behalf of our members, their families and their communities. We’re fighting to preserve health care and pension benefits for retired UMWA members in the coal industry; for safe, secure jobs for all our members; for a sensible energy policy that recognizes the central role coal can and will continue to play in power generation for decades to come; for quality health care for all Americans and especially retirees; for the protection of Social Security and Medicare for current and future retirees; and for strong protections for workers’ rights on the job.
Here are some of the things we are working on in Washington:
The Miners Pension Protection Act
Following on the UMWA’s victory in securing health care benefits for 22,600 retirees, their dependents and widows, the union has immediately turned to making sure that Congress lives up to America’s promise to retired coal miners and keep the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan from going broke.
Just days after the health care benefits were secured, S. 1105 and H.R. 2713 were introduced. These bills contain the pension language from the previous Miners Protection Act that Congress failed to pass in May, 2017.
S. 1105 is sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). H.R 2713 is sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.).
The previous version of the Miners Protection Act, S. 1714, received a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on March 1, 2016, and President Roberts laid out a clear case for why pensions need to be protected. Click here to see the video of his testimony.
Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act
S. 855 was introduced in April, 2017, by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and co-sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). This bill would streamline the process for filing black lung claims and ensure that all medical information gathered by any party, including results of medical exams and chest x-rays obtained by the employer, would be made available to the miner.
It also establishes a program that would provide for impartial reading of chest x-rays, responding to the scandal that was discovered at Johns Hopkins University where company-side doctors did not find any x-ray evidence of black lung even in miners who later died and autopsies proved they died of the disease.
This bill faces significant hurdles in the current Congress, as it is opposed by the employers and their political allies. That will not stop the UMWA from continuing to discuss the need for modernizing the current black lung benefits legal process and stopping unscrupulous doctors and lawyers from keeping benefits from deserving miners.
The Furthering carbon capture, Utilization, Technology, Underground storage, and Reduced Emissions (FUTURE) Act would reform, enhance, and expand upon the current 45Q tax credit provision. Section 45Q of the tax code provides a credit for carbon dioxide (CO2)storage and is available to taxpayers that capture qualified CO2 at a qualified facility and dispose of the CO2 in secure geological storage. The credit is equal to: (1) $20 per metric ton for qualified CO2 that is captured and disposed of in secure geological storage or (2) $10 per metric ton for qualified CO2 that is captured, and stored in a qualified enhanced oil recovery (EOR) project.
Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) technology will, if commercialized, provide for a long-term future for coal to be used to generate electricity in a carbon-neutral way. However, CCUS projects remain very expensive to build and the $10 per ton credit for EOR and $20 per ton credit for other geologic storage continue to be insufficient to stimulate any real financing of CO2 capture or utilization projects.
Introduced in July by Senators Heitkamp (D-ND), Capito (R-WV), Whitehouse (D-RI), Barrasso (R-WY), Graham (R-SC) and Kaine (D-VA), the Act would provide greater certainty for project developers and potential financers, create more flexibility in credit qualified entities, encourage innovation and development of new projects, and incorporate the Department of Energy’s planned large-scale pilot demonstration projects.
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