Thursday, January 05, 2006
When you are this bad a president.... everything IS your fault.
Federal authorities issued 21 citations last year for a build-up of combustible materials at the West Virginia mine where 12 men died, according to U.S. Labor Department statistics.
The mining explosion should call attention to the Bush administration’s inadequate enforcement of federal mining safety regulations. Mining safety in the U.S. has improved dramatically since President Clinton signed the Mining Safety and Health Act of 1997. (In that year, 272 miners died on the job, versus just 56 in 2003. Since 2000, fatal injuries have decreased by 34 percent.)
Phil Smith, the communications director for the United Mine Workers of America, said that while safety regulations are in place, “The problem with the current laws is enforcement.” According to an AFL-CIO analysis, the Bush administration cut 170 positions from federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and has not proposed a single new mine-safety standard or rule during its tenure.
And there’s a reason for that. According to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, since 2000, the Coal Mining industry has made approximately $10.3 million in political donations — 88.5 percent of which went to Republicans. The Washington Post reported that West Virginia coal firms raised $275,000 for Bush.
Last September, Bush has rewarded the coal industry by placing coal industry veteran Richard Stickler in charge of MSHA. Stickler spent about 30 years as a coal company manager with Beth Energy. Mines managed by Stickler were marked by worker injury rates that were double the national average, according to government data cited by the United Mine Workers union.