Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Eastern Enterprises v. Apfel that the 1992 Coal Act was an unconstitutional “taking.” To a room full of miners, Senator Sam Brownback focused the hearing on the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision for other reachback companies and the decision’s long-term financial implications for the solvency of the Combined Fund. Senator Arlen Specter attended.
Senators John D. Rockefeller, IV and Senator Kent Conrad testified. Senator Thad Cochran submitted testimony. Senator Rockefeller emphasized that those who depend on the Coal Act must not lose those benefits. Senator Conrad testified that although the goal of providing benefits is right, the means of achieving the goal as found in the Coal Act are not the best. Other government witnesses included Ms. Kathy Karpan, from the Department of the Interior, and Ms. Marilyn O’Connell, from the Social Security Administration, who outlined the role of their respective agencies in implementing the Coal Act.