Mine Safety

Are new laws needed to protect workers?


In the wake of last year's deadly explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia — the nation's worst mining disaster in 40 years — Congress is considering new mine-safety legislation, and federal officials are tightening enforcement of existing laws. At the same time, the strip-mining technique of blowing the tops off mountains to access coal deposits, known as mountaintop removal, is under increasing scrutiny by environmentalists. Critics argue that while the nation needs coal as part of a comprehensive energy strategy, mining companies must do a better job of protecting workers, natural habitats and communities located near mines. Industry officials argue that stricter government oversight will hinder their ability to extract coal, ultimately putting miners out of work and making energy ...

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