Monday, August 6, 2007

Another Mine Catastrophe

Six miners in Utah remain trapped as workers scramble against time to free them. It was reported early this morning that an earthquake had struck Utah. Scientists have since declared that the collapse was so powerful that it was mistaken for an earthquake.

Last year, 47 miners lost their lives in the line of duty. That is an increase of more than 210% from the 22 killed in 2005. Though Congress passed the MINER Act in 2006, the first new mine health and safety bill in more than 30 years, many defenders of labor argue that it wasn't enough. There are fewer jobs more dangerous than that of a miner, and as power demands steadily increase, a large number of miners are nearing retirement age. Great demands coupled with younger, less inexperienced workers could mean that we are headed for more frequent and increasingly catastrophic events.

It should be no surprise that the Senate refused the Bush nomination of Robert Stickler as head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration when you consider that the injury rate of the mines he ran between 1989 and 1996 were double the national average. In typical Bush fashion, he was appointed using a backdoor recess.

More regulation is needed including more stringent penalties and the actual enforcement of penalties for mine operators found in violation of federal laws. Until then, all we can do is pray for these brave workers who risk their lives and watch their health deteriorate every day. Please keep these six miners and their families in your thoughts.

Finally some songs to keep in your mind and a couple of links.