Coal miners urge Congress extension of black lung funding

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Former Appalachian coal miners and supporters are in Washington this week to urge lawmakers to extend a tax that benefits miners sick with black lung disease.

The excise tax paid by coal companies funds the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, but the tax is set to decrease by half at the end of the year.

Calling it a matter of life and death, supporters say the fund could be in jeopardy without the extension. Kenny Fleming had to retire early from coal mining in eastern Kentucky when he got sick. He called the fund a "lifesaver."

Rates of black lung, an incurable disease, have been on the rise in Appalachia in recent years.

House Republicans inserted a one-year extension for the tax into a tax bill released this week.

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