Black Lung Benefits Endangered

This month Making Connections News features an August 13th webinar, Black Lung: People, Power and Policy. At this virtual event, Gary Hairston, President of the National Black Lung Association, describes the way in which the disease is diminishing his life, while Debbie Wills, who helps miners at one of West Virginia’s Black Lung Clinics, details the long and difficult process for applying for and receiving benefits. Rebecca Shelton from Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center describes the shocking increase in the disease, especially among younger miners, and calls on the government to enact regulations that would reduce dust and silica in the mines, and thus Black Lung disease. Willie Dodson with Appalachian Voices encourages listeners to join current grassroots efforts to ensure Congress adequately funds the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. As more and more coal companies declare bankruptcy, sick miners are dependent on this fund for life extending health care, but without an increase in the excise tax that supports it, the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund could be severely cut back. For more information on the problem and how you can help, go to

Politics & Policy