The House Financial Services Committee took a first step toward repeal of the mine safety disclosure requirements on November 15, 2017, with its approval of H.R. 4289. This bill proposes to eliminate the requirement instituted by Congress in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Congress imposed these disclosure requirements in the aftermath of several underground coal mine tragedies that had also led to the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) increased enforcement and criticism of the growing number of contest cases that mine operators were filing. Congress included, within the legislation, a requirement that publicly-traded companies with mining operations include, in their quarterly and annual U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, disclosures detailing certain types of MSHA enforcement activity and as well as contests of MSHA citations and penalties. The legislation also requires companies to report to the SEC certain MSHA enforcement activities, such as the issuance of imminent danger orders, within 8 days of their occurrence.
From the beginning, these reporting requirements have been questioned, especially with respect to their emphasis on the issuance of citations rather than citations that have become final and thus have completed any judicial review process. The requirement for reporting data on mine safety contest cases filed also could be read as intended to discourage exercise of due process rights in seeking judicial review of agency enforcement actions.
We will have to wait and see whether this bill progresses toward enactment. In the meantime, the reporting requirements remain in place unchanged.