Our Insights


New Interim Leader of MSHA Appointed

Authors: Margaret S. Lopez (Washington DC), Hera S. Arsen, Ph.D. (Torrance)

Published Date: August 28, 2017

Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta recently announced his appointment for the new interim Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Wayne D. Palmer, who was formerly chief of staff to Secretary Acosta will serve as acting head of the agency until the confirmation of a Trump administration nominee as assistant secretary. He will also serve as the agency’s deputy assistant secretary.

As DOL Chief of Staff, Palmer was part of the Trump administration’s transition team following the presidential inauguration. Before serving at the U.S. Department of Labor, Palmer worked for the Center for Presidential Transition—an organization run by the nonprofit and nonpartisan Partnership for Public Services—as senior manager of congressional relations. He also previously worked as chief of staff for former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and as legislative director for the late Ohio senator George Voinovich. Palmer also served as a presidential management fellow at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Palmer holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania.

As interim assistant secretary, Palmer will head MSHA until the U.S. Senate confirms a permanent assistant secretary. The Trump administration is expected to announce a nominee for the position soon. The confirmation process cannot start until the Senate returns from its summer recess. In the meantime, mining associations reportedly continue to advocate for the appointment of a permanent MSHA head with a background or career in the mining industry.

Margaret S. Lopez  (Washington DC)

Margaret S. Lopez
Margo Lopez is the Managing Shareholder of the Washington, D.C. office and a long time workplace safety lawyer representing mining companies in the coal, metal, stone, sand and gravel industries. She is a highly successful litigator and regularly presents company and industry cases before Administrative Law Judges, Federal Review Commissions and the United States Courts of Appeals. In a high profile Court of Appeals case, Margo effectively saved the mining industry from severe limitations on its...

Hera S. Arsen, Ph.D.  (Torrance)

Hera S. Arsen, Ph.D.
Hera S. Arsen, J.D., Ph.D. is Senior Marketing Counsel overseeing the firm's print and online legal publications and content. Hera, who joined Ogletree Deakins in 2003, is directly responsible for writing and editing the firm's national legal content, including coverage of federal agencies and the Supreme Court of the United States. She also oversees the Ogletree Deakins blog, which covers the latest legal news from over 20 practice-areas and jurisdictions. As leader of the firm's blog, Hera...