Mtn. Talk: The Fight to Save the Black Lung Trust Fund
Black Lung Disease has reached epidemic status across the nation and especially in Appalachia. Black Lung is an incurable and fatal, but also preventable condition caused by exposure to coal and dust. One in 5 miners in our region have Black Lung, and that rate has doubled in the past decade. And yet, as rates of the disease rapidly increase, the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund – is under threat.
This Federal Fund exists to provide support to miners and their families in navigating the many expenses of living with Black Lung, in cases where the company the miner worked for has gone bankrupt. But as more and more miners are diagnosed with the disease, more and more coal companies are filing for bankruptcy, placing increased pressure on the fund.
The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is set to expire on December 31st, 2018, which would leave thousands of retired miners and their families in dire straits.
In late November a group of citizens from across the country, including eastern KY, traveled to Washington D.C. to urge their representatives to uphold the Trust Fund and to support the Reclaim Act. The trip was put together by organizations across the country, including the Appalachian Citizens Law Center. While in D.C. the group hosted a press conference to inform media of the issues at stake.
In this episode we’ll hear audio from the press conference, an interview with Kenny Fleming – one of the retired eastern Kentucky coal miners who traveled to D.C., and some history and context behind the organizing efforts to save the Trust Fund from Eric Dixon of the ACLC.
Music on this episode features Rich Kirby and Michael Kline with the “Black Lung Blues” off of their JuneAppal album They Can’t Put It Back.