While it remains to be seen whether a formal presidential appointee will be tapped to run the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the Trump Administration finally made an influx of leadership decisions for the agency.
The Department of Labor announced that Wayne Palmer, former Chief of Staff to Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, is now the acting head of MSHA. Palmer’s replacement at the Department of Labor, Nicholas Geale (who is also the Department’s acting Solicitor), stated that Palmer is from Pennsylvania and has “mining in his family’s background.” However, it is not readily apparent if he has any professional experience working with the mining industry. Palmer’s political experience includes working for Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and George Voinovich (R-OH), as well as lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry.
It is still believed the administration will nominate an appointee to serve as permanent Assistant Secretary for MSHA in the coming months, but until that day comes and the nominee is approved by the Senate, Palmer will lead MSHA.
Will Palmer’s presence will serve to further the President’s vow of deregulation? That’s a timely question given MSHA’s final rule for the Examination of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines is set to go into effect on October 2, 2017.