Coal Mining Safety

Are underground miners adequately protected?


The year has started off tragically for the coal industry, which provides the fuel to generate half the nation's electricity. The deaths of 12 men in an explosion at the Sago mine in West Virginia — and nine more mining fatalities soon afterwards — have raised questions about whether the nation's 75,000 coal miners are adequately protected. Critics say the Bush administration rarely penalizes mine operators who violate safety rules. But the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) says its strict enforcement has led to the lowest number of fatalities in history — just 22 deaths in 2005 compared to 66 in 1990. West Virginia already has passed tougher state rules, and its congressional delegation advocates similar protections nationwide. Meanwhile, MSHA has issued new rules ...

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