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President Obama: “Our task…is to save lives from being lost in another such tragedy”

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Click here for a report by Michael Shear of the Washington Post.

The president had already expressed his anger about what he called the failures that led to the blast, and has pledged federal action to reveal the causes of the accident and safeguard other mines.

“How can we fail them?” he asked the hundreds assembled in what had once been the Beckley armory. “How can a nation that relies on its miners not do everything in its power to protect them?

“Our task here on Earth,” he said, “is to save lives from being lost in another such tragedy.”

Speaking before Obama, Vice President Biden hinted at the long debate to come about how to make mining safer.

“As a community and a nation, we could compound tragedy if we let life go on unchanged,” he said. “Certainly, no one should have to sacrifice his life for his livelihood.”

Biden promised that the nation will “have that conversation later.”

I couldn’t agree more with both President Obama and Vice President Biden; at the minimum, if we are going to keep consuming coal, we need to do everything we can to ensure that no more miners are killed producing it for us.  

  • I appreciate this — both Obama’s words and Lowell’s posting them.  

  • jack

    Many mistakes were made.  Many violations overlooked.  Many lives lost.  Because of that last fact, we focus today on coal mining.  In 2007, coal mining fatalities were 29.5 per 100,000 workers, according to the BLS.  

    Some other numbers:

    Logging………………………………….. 88.1

    Fishing, hunting, and trapping………. 84.1

    Aircraft pilots and flight engineers…. 70.7

    Structural iron and steel workers….. 45.5

    Farmers and ranchers………………… 39.5

    But they die one at a time.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    Anyone posting here and trying to play down the recent tragedy needs to read the history of the coal fields. Miners not only gave their lives getting coal, but they were gunned down when they first tried to organize and break out of the “company town” that held down wages and then gouged most of those wages out of the miners with company-owned housing and stores.

    Appalachia has a long history of exploitation of its resources and its people. There are many other dangerous occupations, but they don’t have the same history of exploitation.

    I’m not belittling the loss of any lives in any profession. I simply do not feel that comparisons of danger mean a darn thing. Yes, “mistakes were made.” Massey discounted repeated warnings about safety violations. The federal regulators in the first decade of this century played footsie with the owners, at the expense of mine safety.

    Now that there is a “new sheriff” in Washington, the visit of the President and Vice President was a powerful signal that mine safety is a priority again.