November .24, 1970 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD-SENATE s 18793
S . 4537-INTRODUCTION OF A BILL
TO AMEND THE FEDERAL COAL
MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT
Mr. MANSFIELD. Mr. President, in the
past, congressional concern prompted by
several tragic mine disasters resulted in
the passage of the Federal Coal Mine
Health and Safety Act of 1969. At the
time of the passage o! this legislation,
its full implications for all facets of the
mining industry were not known, nor
could it be expected that they be known.
We have now reached that point in the
administration of this act where I believe
a review is in order.
For a great many years, a number of
small coal mines have been operating in
central and south-central Montana.
providing coal, not for the national defense
nor for industry, but simply for
the heating of private homes. In the past
months, my correspondence has been ex-
Mike Mansfield Papers, Series 21, Box 46 , Folder 82, Mansfield Library, University of Montana.
s 18794 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD- SENATE November 24, 1970
ceptionally heavy on the part of constituents.
asking that some assistance be
rendered in allowing these small mines
to continue operating.
At my request, Mr. Henry Wheeler of
the Bureau of Mines has visited Montana
on several occasions. His most recent
visit took place on November 12,
1970, at which time he visited with coal
mine operators at Roundup, Mont., and
met firsthand with the Janskovitch
brothers, who operate a small mine near
Red Lodge, Mont. The Janskovitch mine
has, by provisions of the Federal Coal
Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969,
been closed to further operation. What
we are faced with in this instance is the
depriving of a family of their sole source
of income, as well as those numerous
households in the area dependent upon
coal for heat. At this time, I would ask
unanimous consent for the insertion of
portions of Henrv Wheeler's report to the
Director of the Bureau of Mines.
There being no objectiOn, the excerpts
from the report were ordered to be
printed in the RECORD, as follows:
NOVEMBER 18, 1970.
Prom: Deputy Director-Health and Safety.
Subject : Meeting with coal mine operators
In vicinity of Roundup. Montana, November
In response to a request made by Senator
Mansfield to Secretary Hlckel, I went to Montana
on November 12 and met first with the
Ja.n.skovltch brothers who ha,·e a small mine
near Red Lodge, Montana, and then with the
operators o! several small mmes tn the vicinity
of Roundup. Jim Westfield, Assistant
Director--Coal Mine Health and Safety, and
Tony Moschetti, District Man14:er, Coal
Mine Health and Safety District E, accompanied
me. Mr. Floyd Brower, a lawyer who
represents the operators at Roundup, attended
our meeting with them.
The Janskovltch brothers have operated
their small mine for many years (they said
about 36 years) to produce coal for sale at
the mine to people who come there to buy It
In trucks and other small conveyances. Most,
1! not all , of the coal Is burned !or spaceheating
In local homes and stores, Some o! It
may find Its way across the State line Into
Wyoming. The output o! the mine has been
about 400 tons a year. At •1000 a ton, this
would provide a gross Income from sa.les
amounting to about U.OOO a yea>'. Except tor
a garden and an occasional deer and other
game hunted by the brothers, they say, the
mine Is their only source o! Income and
The bt'others Janskovltch cannot understand
why they cannot work In their own
mine on their own property where only they
are exposed to the hazards of operating the
mine. They do not believe that the 400 tons
o! coe.l a year that they produce should be
of concern, one way or the other, to the
Federal Government. They do not believe
that the mlne Ia unsafe, but even I! It Is,
tbey believe tha.t they should be !ree tO
choose between operating the mine or, as
they say, going on the weltare roles. In their
view, the Feder&J. Government has taken
their only source of Income without providIng
any elf-setting compensation---and although
they want to fight the Government,
they cannot alford lt.
I am sympathetic with the plight o! the
brothers Ja.nskovltch. I believe there Is a difference
between a mine tha.t Is really Important
to the national defense and econ·
omy and one tha.t Ia clearly o! only local
slgnlf!ca.nce. Further, there Is a difference
between a mine In which the operator Is
also a miner and one In which tho operator
employs others to work In the mine.
There would appeJ.r to be at least two
possible leglsla.tl ve al ternatl ves: ( 1) provide
Federal compensation to small operators who
are unable to continue to operate under the
new law, or (2) allow small operators to
elect to coutlnue operating outside the law
or some portions o! lt. The first alternative
would provide relief to the small opemtor,
but It would not help homeowners and
small businessmen who need the coal !rom
the small local mines. Consequently, the
second alternative would appear to be preferable
Consequently, I! anything Is to be done,
I would suggest something like the followIng.
Amend the law to provide that, at
least untll the matter can be studied more
thoroughly (possibly untll December 30,
1971) , certain small operators be a.lforded an
opportunity to elect to operate without complying
with the provisions o! the la.w but
only under conditions that do not constitute
an Imminent danger Under such an amendment,
the Bureau would continue to IIUpect
the mines and point out conditions that
would otherwise be violations o! the law, but
the Bureau could only order the workers to
be withdrawn !rom the mines when conditions
ot Imminent danger were found to
exist. In effect, we would allow the workers
to te.ke calculated risks but not to take
Although the criteria !or small mines thAt
might be afforded such an option should
be given more thought, they might be about
as follows :
I. The mine must have been In operation
prior to December 30, 1969, the date of enactment
of the Federal Coal Mine Health
and Safety Act o! 1969.
2. The mine shall have no more than five
men working underground at any time.
3 The operator o! the mine must work In
the mine, and I! there are other workers,
they all must voluntarily and w1thout IntimIdation
elect along with tbe operator to
operate under the exception.
4 The mine must be "above the water
table" and have no history of methane accumulations
In excess of 0.25 percent by
volume anywhere In the mine.
5 All o! the coal (or some hlgb percentage
o! It) must be used locally !or spaceheating
If It should be determined that tbe amendment
should also provide a measure of protection
against pneumoconiosis In the excepted
mines, the amendment might exempt
the mines from taking dust samples but require
the mines to comply with the applicable
dust standard as measured In surveys
made by the Bureau o! M1nes
I realize that any proposal for amending
the law Is subject to criticism, but I belleve
It Is something that should be considered.
The operators at Roundup are doing quite
well. They are buying equipment to get Into
compliance (how much I do not know, for
they have not sent me a promised estimate
of expenditures to date). They say, bowever,
that they cannot alford to spend much
more, and If this Is true, they w111 likely have
difficulty In continuing operations compliance
with the law through the winter. In
this regard, the aforementioned exception
would also help them.
Mr. MANSFIELD Mr. President,
based on the recommendations provided
in this report, I introduce a bill which
would amend the Federal Coal Mine
Health and Safety Act of 1969.
I think it important that all concerned
understand that It is in no way my Intention
to weaken or undermine the Intent
of the Federal Coal Mine Health
and Safety Act of 1969, but raUler to
provide an ~ •uitable adjust! 1en1
those mines which, for one 1eason or
another, find compliance with th~; present
act impossible. As a further demonstration
of the needs of this situation I
ask unanimous consent that two letu;rs
bearing on this subject be inserted In
There being no objection, the letters
were ordered to be printed in the REcORD,
NovEMBER 4, 1970. Laurel, Mont.
Honorable M1KE MANSFIELD,
United States Senate,
Senate Office Building,
DEAR SENATOR : This letter Is written In
concern over the closing o! the Roadside Coal
Mine In Bearcreek, Montana by '!.he Federal
Mine Olflcals. I contacted Mr. Jim Murry,
Executive Secretary of the Montana State
AFL-CIO, about this matter and he said
this letter to you would be the most effective
way to handle lt. Mr Murry and I are both
members o! OCAW Local 2-443 here In
The Roadside Mine Is owned and operated
by Frank and Leopold Janskovltch and Louls
Yerman This Is a partnership and they employ
no one. Leopold Ja.nskov1tch Is my stepfather.
I am not against the Mine Sa.!ety
Act. My Father, Grandfather and Uncle were
kllled In the Smith mine disaster In Bearcreek
In 1943 We need the Mine Sa.!ety Act.
But I think It was meant to ma.ke s.a.!e, large
mines w1th large numbers o! employees a.nd
not to close down small operators. This Is
lnfrlngment on Individual rights o! people
already operating at the poveny level. With
all th«: unemployment we .have, I can't see
taking the livelihOod away from these rugged
Individuals who are trying to stand on their
own two feet.
The distinction between gaseous and nongaseous
mines was ellmlna.ted In the recent
Mine Safety Act and this Is probably the
source o! most or this trouble. It Is economically
Impossible tor these small nongaseous
mine operators to meet the elaborate
safety regulations being forced upon
them. Other mines 1n Montana. besides
Roadside Coal !a.ce this same situation and
need help very soon to avoid their economic
disaster. Any help Mr. Mansfield, that you
can give to get these miners ba.ck to work
w111 be very much appreciated. Would It be
possible to correct the Mine Safety Act to
exclude these small operators?
Congratulations on your resounding victory
over Mr. Wallace in yesterday's election.
You have my continued support nod thank
you In advance !or help given Roadside Coal.
SAMUEL J. MOUlllCH.
RoUNDUP, MONT., J!Lne 10, 1970.
MI..K.E MANSFIELD, .
Untted States Senate,
Office of the Majonty Leader,
DEAR CONGRESSMAN : We ba.ve been told
many times, "I! we have o. subject we are
e6peclally concerned a/bout, write our Congr&£
We here In Roundup, Montana have o. serious
thing confronting our people, town,
county, and state. It Is the Mine Safety Act
of 1969, that has been enforced ~alnst our
mines in this area, causing them to close. u
It just concerned a few, It might be able to
be overlooked, but this Is e. !e.r reaching
People from an parts o! the slate, as well
as we In this area, depend upon tbe Roundup
Mines !or our source o! energy. If the mines
are not able to operate In this County, I'm
sure our town wlll vanish. Many retired
people who make tbelr home here, cannot
fl.lford to con vert to other means o! heat e.nd
Mike Mansfield Papers, Series 21, Box 46 , Folder 82, Mansfield Library, University of Montana.
November 24, 1970 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD- SENATE s 18795
will be forced to leave. Most all the business
places In Roundup are also dependent upon
our coal Industries, tor business as well as
means of energy.
I have worked twenty six years In the local
mines, and tor the last few yee.rs have been
employed at the Nles Coal Company. Therefore.
I realize some o! the regulations are
Impossible tor small mines, with such low
veins of coal, to follow. The safety equipment
Is not made for machines e.s small as
those used In this type of mlne. This mine
closing will leave me, as well as many others,
without employment next fall.
Since you are famlllar with the area In
Central Monte.na, I'm sure you must know
how much we need our small mines to operate.
Please do all you can to have this
S&tety Act revt.sed In making It possible for
the mining Industry to continue.
Thank you tor your elfort In helping to
keep Roundup on the map.
Hon. MIKE MANSFIELD,
Senate OfJice Building,
Wa3hington, D .C.
NOVI!:MBER 9, 1970,
DEAR SENATOR MANSFIELD: I cut thiS article
from the Bearcreek Banner, edited and publlshed
by their up-and-coming Mayor Fay
This Item expresses Just what I want to say
about the very tine folks-the Janskovltch of
Bearcreek and their Roadside Mine.
Hope you give this matter your personal
attention and do all you can tor us.
M;rs. MARIE HUNTER.
"RoADSIDE" Is CLosED
Action prompted by new mine-safety laws
brought orders to close down all mining at
Bearcreek's last remaining active source of
The telephoned order came from Washington,
D.C. on threat of $10,000. fine tor falling
The law, designed to force mine owners to
Install safety equipment for protection ot
their hired workers, was Invoked to close the
small, privately-owned mines also. Men workIng
on their own property, where they, themselves,
had properly handled all safety precautions,
were forced to leave their only
source of Income. This law was used to say, In
elfect, "You might get hurt If you work, so
quit right now--or pay the government $10,·
000. · 50 today, they cannot go Into their own
mine and bring out coal tor the many who
depende·1 on their product to warm their
homes. The law Is as senseless and unfair In
the case of the Roadside Mine as If a housewife
were told, "You might get burned It you
cook In your kitchen, so quit right now--or
pay the government a fine!"
Frank and Poly Janskovltch have personally
mined their tunnels for 38 years, making
their Uvlng from their own property, botherIng
no one, remaining Independent and proud
ot being so--In the fine, true, old-American
tradition. It was this spirit of pride In one's
work, of dependence on self, and belle! In
the Integrity of the Individual's right to live
as he chose, that caused America to be born
In the first place, remember? It was this
spirit also that made It thrive.
Frank and Poly are no longer young, nor
1B their mine a large one. Their vein of coal
has required them to work on their knees,
a fact that would, In Itself, have put them
out ot business many years ago, had the
mine's air supply and other factors been less
than safe .
Returns from the small mine are not sumclent
to pay for the expensive equipment
required under the new law, nor do the
Janskovltches feel It Is necessary since they
have worked their mine safely for nearly
tour decades. They have been alert always to
the posslblll ty of danger and provided safeguards
promptly where the need appeared.
Any tunnel appearing unsafe was promptly
abandoned and closed olf. Their ventilating
shaft kept the air In the mine fresh and
clean, tully adequate !or two working men.
A law that may well fit the big mines,
has Indeed been nothing but a cruel crushIng
blow to the small, and I! America Is to
exhibit any measure of Justice In thla case,
small, privately owned and operated mines
must be given exemption from thla law!
Mr. MANSFIELD. Mr. President, I ask
unanimous consent that the text of the
bill I am introducing today be printed In
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore
!Mr. EAGLETON). The bill will be
received and appropriately referred; and,
without objection, the b!ll will be printed
in the RECORD.
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