Discussions about natural resources law traditionally focus on regulatory developments at the Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Commerce, and the Department of Agriculture and the implications of those developments for resource management, public health, and the environment. But these discussions tend to overlook the role played by the Department of Labor (DOL) in natural resources law and, in particular, the role of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), which Congress established to help protect those who extract natural resources from the ground. A review of recent MSHA rulemakings and related court cases provides a glimpse of what could be described as an inside-out view of natural resources law—that is, the perspective of those who face the risk of injury and illness in the resource-extraction workplace.
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