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Page 74 of 123 ROCK products • August 2018 • 73 Aggregates Industry Almanac Law from looking at a broader array of human factors in the quest to improve safety and health at our nation's mines. Other than its website solicitation for input as to any regula- tions that should be updated or eliminated, we have not seen any formal action toward the implementation of President Trump's much touted initiative towards reducing or elimi- nating regulation. On an encouraging note, however, another recently issued RFI asks for alternatives to strict regulatory compliance that have been subject to Petitions for Modification that have been historically granted. Once again, we are very early in the process on that RFI, but the possible outcomes all point to a significant lifting of regulatory burdens and operator expense in dealing with outdated or unduly restrictive reg- ulatory requirements. Last, but certainly not least, Assistant Secretary Zatezalo has announced that he intends to "blur the lines" between coal and metal/nonmetal enforcement. He has said that he will create an administrator for "enforcement" with an assistant for coal and another for metal/nonmetal. He has suggested that he will combine the coal and metal/ nonmetal districts into "enforcement districts." He has made it clear that this will allow coal and metal/nonmetal inspec- tors to be interchangeable where it makes sense from a geographic standpoint. For instance, there is a metal/nonmetal field office in Anchorage and one coal mine in Alaska. Currently, MSHA sends coal inspectors from Wyoming to inspect that mine. Presumably, under the new system, the metal/nonmetal inspectors from Anchorage will conduct those inspections, saving MSHA significant expense. This makes sense from an MSHA administrative standpoint, but it remains to be seen how adaptable one set of inspectors will be to mines they are not used to inspecting and regulations with which they are unfamiliar. There are a couple of other signs of change in the agency that should give us all cause for optimism. • First, highly placed MSHA officials have announced in sev- eral public meetings that they will not support citations issued because an operator tried innovative or new tech- nology, which ultimately did not work out. •  Second, those same officials have suggested that operators contact headquarters when they are unable to address a sudden change in regulatory interpretations through the field office or the district. It's impossible to predict exactly what will happen with the RFIs, but what appears clear at this point is that it's time for us to re-engage with the agency. Each of us should take advantage of every opportunity to engage with the agency through every possible avenue. We should respond to the RFIs with the types of responses we hope to see from MSHA. We should take MSHA up on its renewed commitment to engage on arbitrary enforcement and we should not be afraid to try innovative approaches to safety for fear we will be penalized for our efforts. We also need to be courteous – but objective and vocal – about any issues that arise from the blurring of the dis- tinction between coal and metal/nonmetal. This all will be especially important in determining the ultimate course of the agency. We have an agency that appears to be more responsive to the concerns of the regulated community than it was in the past. We owe it to ourselves to make sure they are informed of our views both positive and negative, in order to help the boat turn in the direction that we would like it to go.

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