January 07, 2006

I Understand He Eats Babies Too

Enforcement of mine safety seen slipping under Bush

Can a leaf fall to earth prematurely without it being President Bush's fault?

Since the Bush administration took office in 2001, it has been more lenient toward mining companies facing serious safety violations, issuing fewer and smaller major fines and collecting less than half of the money that violators owed, a Knight Ridder Newspapers investigation has found.

At one point last year, the Mine Safety and Health Administration fined a coal company a scant $440 for a "significant and substantial" violation that ended in the death of a Kentucky man. The firm, International Coal Group Inc., is the same company that owns the Sago mine in West Virginia, where 12 workers died earlier this week.

The $440 fine remains unpaid.

Relaxed mine safety enforcement is widespread, according to a Knight Ridder analysis of federal records and interviews with former and current federal safety officials, even though deaths and injuries from mining accidents have hovered near record low levels in the past few years.

What, what, what? Deaths are at record low levels? You only have to read down another 23 paragraphs to find out that:

It doesn't have anything to do with who's the president because, actually, the people who are doing those fines are apolitical," Gooch said. "They're employees that are covered by the federal civil service, and their own union, by the way, so they compute the fines the way they come out."

Mining industry officials defended the Bush administration and pointed to recent years of record low deaths and injuries in mining as the most important numbers.

For coal mining, 2005 and 2002 were record low years for fatalities. Only 22 people were killed last year in coal mining deaths - down from 47 in 1995. The number of workers killed in all mines hit consecutive record lows of 56 and 55 in 2003 and 2004, respectively, but increased slightly to 57 in 2005.

But small fines are not being paid! Proper respect for the authority of government policy must be restored at all costs -- let's get some perspective here people. Those miners minors wouldn't be orphans if Bush had made that coal company pay it's fine.

Just to be clear, what happened in Sago was a terrible tragedy. The people in that community have my deepest sympathy. And the vultures trying to score political points with their deaths need to be thrown down the mine shafts. Bastards.

Posted by Charles Austin at January 7, 2006 10:42 PM