On August 21st, 2017, Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, announced that Wayne Palmer, former Chief of Staff for the Department of Labor, will serve as interim Assistant Secretary for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, filling a role not addressed since Donald Trump’s inauguration. It is not clear if Mr. Palmer has mining experience, as his position prior to working at the DOL was serving as Chief of Staff for former Pennsylvania Senator, Rick Santorum. Mr. Palmer worked on the transition team for President Trump, and was part of the beachhead team for the Department of Labor following the election. However, national and state mining associations continue to press for someone with a background working in the mining industry for the permanent head of MSHA position.
Due to the fact that this appointment is temporary, Senate confirmation is not required. Therefore, new leadership roles can be filled within the agency fairly quickly. The Trump Administration is expected to announce a nominee for the permanent role within the next 2 weeks. Following the confirmation of the new Assistant Secretary for MSHA, Mr. Palmer may stay on as Deputy Assistant Secretary.