Bennet Joins Senator Manchin’s Bill to Secure Black Lung Disability Trust Fund

Legislation Will Extend the Black Lung Excise Tax Rate, Which Expired at the End of 2021

Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet co-sponsored U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-W. Va.) Black Lung Benefits Disability Trust Fund Act, legislation that calls for a ten-year extension of the black lung excise tax rate, which expired at the end of last year. This will help ensure that coal miners suffering from black lung disease and their families have access to the quality medical care they need. Without revenue from the tax, the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is at risk of becoming insolvent at a time when the number of black lung cases is rapidly increasing. 

“For decades, coal miners sacrificed their health to power communities in Colorado and across our country,” said Bennet. “We have an obligation to ensure the miners who suffer from black lung disease can access treatment and medical care. I’m working with my colleagues to pass this legislation and protect the Trust Fund for miners and their families.”

“Workers and families living with black lung health impacts deserve adequate compensation that they can count on for the long haul,” said Emily Hornback, Executive Director, Western Colorado Alliance. “It's time to get a long term fix for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund for families here in Colorado and across the country.”

“Ensuring the solvency of the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is a critical way we can step up for Colorado's coal miners. Statistics show that there has been a 12 fold increase in black lung in the last 30 years, which translates to more cases of black lung now and in the future. It is critical the fund has sufficient funding for the wellbeing of miners and their families,” said Roger Carver, former coal miner and former President of United Mine Worker Local 1281.

The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is financed primarily by an excise tax on coal produced and sold domestically. This tax was first established in 1978 at $0.50 per ton on underground-mined coal and $0.25 per ton on surface-mined coal. The rates were later raised to $1.10 per ton for underground-mined coal and $0.55 per ton for surface-mined coal. Due to congressional inaction. Those rates expired on December 31, 2021.

Since 1973, Colorado miners have filed more than 7,200 applications for black lung disability benefits. A full fact sheet on black lung disease in Colorado is available HERE. A letter of support for this legislation from organizations across the nation is available HERE

The bill text is available HERE.