Monday, December 13, 2010

N.Y. Times blasts GOP for killing mine safety bill

The New York Times' editorial board has been outspoken in favor of strengthening mine safety laws in the wake of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster that killed 29 West Virginia miners in April. Now the newspaper has blasted congressional Republicans for blocking the legislation. "Republicans predictably shielded mine owners, citing warnings from the National Association of Manufacturers that the reform might drive up coal prices by expanding government authority and exposing mining companies to greater criminal penalties and damage litigation," the newspaper writes. "That is exactly what this perilously dangerous industry needs. Too many lives have already been lost for the sake of cheap coal."

The editorial continues, "The failure was even more egregious in the Senate, where strong reform proposals never saw the heat of debate as the Republican minority wielded its brute dogma of filibustering. . . . The owner of the Upper Big Branch, Massey Energy, can now rest easier. The defeated reform would have toughened enforcement against serial violators like Massey — it had 515 violations in 2009 — which routinely game the system and count on years of appeals to allow them to keep flouting the law." The Times concludes, "We fear reform is even less likely in the new Congress where pro-industry Republicans will have greater power. This year they warned against a “rush to judgment” about what precisely happened at Upper Big Branch. We know what happened, 29 people died. And Congress failed in its duty." (Read more)

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