Friday, April 30, 2010

Deaths of two coal miners get more than usual attention from pols, media after big disaster

If there was any doubt that coal-mine safety has a firm place on the public agenda, the reaction to this week's two-fatality roof fall at a mine in Western Kentucky shows it. Gov. Steve Beshear, who is up for re-election in 2011, went to the area, and President Obama issued a short statement about it today. We doubt that any president has ever issued a statement about the deaths of two coal miners, but perhaps when 29 die in one explosion, the president spends three sad hours at a memorial service and USA Today puts a mine-safety takeout on Page One, the White House attention span gets lengthened. (Photo of mine bathhouse by Jim Pearson, The Messenger, Madisonville, Ky.)

Rural news media are paying attention, too. The Times Leader, a twice-weekly newspaper in Princeton, Ky., outside the coalfield but in an adjoining county, ran The Associated Press's story about the mine being cited six times this year for not using enough roof bolts. A roof fall killed the miners. Here is background from Chuck Stinnett of The Gleaner in Henderson, Ky., on Alliance Resources, CEO Joe Craft and the Dotiki Mine. It has produced coal since 1966, which must be something of a record.

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