Sunday, April 11, 2010

Congress likely to act on mine safety, and Obama is engaged, Washington correspondent writes

Congress is likely to pass new mine-safety legislation in the wake of last week's disaster that killed 29 miners at a Massey Energy mine in West Virginia, reports James R. Carroll, Washington reporter for The Courier-Journal of Louisville. (Photo of Cheryl Judy, American Federation of Teachers, by Rick Barbero, The Register-Herald, Beckley)

Carroll recalls how 12 deaths at the Sago Mine of International Coal Group in West Virginia in January 2006 prompted hearings and legislation, and how five more at the Kentucky Darby mine on May 20 "provided the additional impetus Congress needed to finish up the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006.  The bill passed the House on June 7 of that year, and President George W. Bush signed the bill in front of miners’ families on June 15. ... It appears likely Obama will preside over a similar signing ceremony some months hence."

"The palpable sense of déjà vu is shocking and sad for mine safety advocates," Carroll writes, reporting possible measures: "giving the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration more powers {perhaps to close mines, something it has done only once] and making changes to regulations governing mine seals, miner drug-testing and other issues," including increasing the minimum number of annual inspections to six from four.

"Celeste Monforton, a former MSHA staffer who is now a George Washington University public-health professor, ... said Congress and MSHA also should examine how repeat violators who endanger the lives of miners could be subject to criminal liability, Carroll writes, quoting Monforton: “It is unacceptable for an employer in the United States of America in 2010 to have dozens and dozens of violations in a three-month period,” Monforton said. “It’s sick.”

In a nice nugget, Carroll notes, "Obama has scheduled a White House meeting in the coming week with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and MSHA chief Joseph Main. Some longtime coal industry observers cannot recall the last time a president met with the head of MSHA other than at a ceremonial event." (Read more)

1 comment:

psutopgun1 said...

What happened in WVa is horrible and if the company is at fault they should pay the price. Make no mistake, though, Obama is looking for any excuse to shut down our coal industry.