Boone County is now the fifth Black Lung Association statewide, and it’s mission, to stop Congress from allowing the coal severance tax to take effect for Fiscal Year 2019.
The coal industry has been pushing to sever the tax from $1.10 to .55 cents on underground coal, and from .50 cents to .25 cents on surface coal.
The current legislation in place is set to expire December 31st, for which the new severance tax will go into effect, underfunding the Trust Fund, which awards benefits to those that have black lung disease, and family members of those who have died from it.
More than 76,000 miners have died from Black Lung Disease since 1968, according to the Department of Labor. This Association will serve as a support system to coal miners and their families.
Danny Hager was a miner for 31 years and truly enjoyed the work. He personally doesn’t suffer from black lung disease, and is very thankful, however, knows many people who do. He is passionate about protecting the Trust Fund, and heavily advocates it’s benefits and resources provided to currently retired miners and their families.
“The people that are getting it, they didn’t get it because of who they are, they got it because of what they did and what they did for the coal mines, the companies and they deserve something in return, because it’s killing them,” said Hager.
The Boone County Black Lung Association was made possible with the help of Boone Memorial Hospital, and BMH Respiratory Department Director/Association volunteer, Willie Carte teamed up with Hager to get the ball rolling and begin recruitment.
The first recruitment meeting was held September 20th where 10 people signed up. They are hoping to gain 75 members in time to lobby in Washington, D.C.
“If they don’t have anybody to stand up and fight for them. It’s a lost cause and so you don’t just have to be a coal miner, you don’t have to be a family member, you can just be interested in helping. I mean that’s the heritage of our state is coal,” said Carte.
The next recruitment meeting is set for Thursday, October 11th, and will be held at Boone Memorial Hospital in Private Dining Room (beside the cafeteria).
Other black lung associations are in Mercer, Raleigh, Wyoming, and Fayette County.
For more information on how to join, or if you have any further questions, contact Danny Hager at (304) 369-1032.