Shafted: How the Bush Administration Reversed Decades of Progress on Mine Safety

Source: Ken Ward Jr., Washington Monthly, Vol. 39 no. 3, March 2007

…More than five years later, the Bush Administration can claim that, indeed, no more terrorist attacks have occurred on American soil. But its record on mining safety is decidedly more troubling. As of mid-January of this year, 165 coal miners had been killed on the job since the Jim Walter disaster…. While administration supporters can point to a steady drop in the number of coal mining deaths through 2005, when a record low of twenty-two occurred, those numbers don’t tell the whole story…. [Elaine] Chao’s promise to the families of Brookwood was not, as many probably assumed, a call for tighter rules and stricter enforcement. Instead it was a signal for greater cooperation with mining companies. Under the Bush appointee Dave Lauriski… he filled the agency’s top jobs with former industry colleagues, dropped more than a dozen safety proposals initiated during the Clinton administration, and cut almost 200 of the 1,200 coal mine inspectors. Mine-safety experts have linked many of these actions to the causes of deadly mine accidents since 2001.

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