Black lung program in trouble - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Black lung program in trouble

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CARTERVILLE, Ill. -- A federal fund set up to help miners suffering from black lung is in danger. The fund is secured through a tax on coal companies.

After the government shutdown earlier this year, the tax was allowed to decrease by more than 50 cents per ton, and hasn't been restored.

Stacy Redinger works closely with those affected, and says the disease affects roughly 25,000 members of the United Mine Workers of America. She says the fund was already in trouble due to the growing number of bankrupt coal companies.

Not only would this have a large direct impact on coal miners and their families, Redinger says it's possible local economies with a high concentration of coal miners could see an indirect impact as well. 

According to Redinger, Congress is looking at using unused money originally intended for coal mine land reclamation to supplement the fund.

She says with no change, the fund is projected to become insolvent within two years.

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