Stop Blaming Mine Explosions on Explosive Mine Safety Violations!


    No, really. That’s what Virginia conservative bloggers are actually saying today. Watching them try to deflect attention away from the West Virginia mine explosion tragedy’s cause is like watching the wedding scene from Monty Python & the Holy Grail. Let’s not bicker & argue about who killed who!

    Why should we rush to judgment that there could’ve been wrongdoing involved? Just because the mine that blew up was cited for safety violations for this exact problem just last month?

    A huge underground explosion blamed on methane gas killed 25 coal miners in the worst U.S. mining disaster in more than two decades. […]

    The mine, about 30 miles south of Charleston, has a significant history of safety violations, including 57 infractions just last month for (among other things) not properly ventilating the highly combustible methane.

    And because that same mine has had over 3,000 safety violations & over $2.2 million in fines? And because Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has explicitly told his underground mine superintendents that production trumps safety?

    Coal mining is a dirty, deadly business. To pretend otherwise is to approach “Heckuva Job Brownie” territory.

    • From the NYT article cited above:

      “The records also show that the mine had 458 violations in 2009, with $897,325 in safety penalties assessed against it, of which it has paid $168,393.”

      According to Forbes’ numbers for 2008, Don Blankenship earned over 11 million dollars.  

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      The coal that is still a major part of our fuel mix is dirty, no matter how one looks at it. Underground mining is both dangerous and dirty. The alternative that profit-hungry corporatists came up with is to blow up the oldest mountains on the continent and throw the unwanted fill into valleys and streams.

      Coal is so dirty that London proved in the 19th century that Darwin was right about adaptation and species modification. A white moth in the city over several generations became a dark gray in color as it had multiple generations born into the filthy air of the city back then – natural selection in action.

      There are alternatives…

    • Teddy Goodson

      John L. Lewis led coal miners in an extended strike; I do not recall all the ins and outs, but there were safety issues and health care involved, as well as pay. He did end up with some health care (black lung disease figured prominently) and sronger safety regulations, despite his being attacked as unpatriotic for interfering with the war effort. Sinced then unions have been cowed, regulations watered down, and whole areas of natural beauty raped, but profits for coal companies have improved. A triumph of the free market: misery and what amounts to murder are necessary collateral damage.

    • What I said was that it was shameful for Lowell and Ben to be using this accident as an excuse to attack Ken Cuccinelli.

      No one is defending Massey. I’m defending Cuccinelli from spurious attacks he doesn’t deserve.

      He’s done enough that does deserve reproach, he doesn’t need to be getting it when he has nothing to do with what is going on here.  

      • What exactly was our agenda after 9/11? Keeping the country safe? I was never one of those who said those who disagreed with the Administration were unpatriotic and I told folks who said that crap that they were wrong. You know I’m not one of those knee-jerk conservatives who is quick to call the other side evil and unpatriotic, so stop trying to paint me that way.  

        • WestEndVoter

          An AG is the head attorney of the Commonwealth’s law firm.  A law firm only acts if it is asked to do so.  In most cases, only the Commonwealth can request action, consumer protection sometimes being an exception.  


          For example, when I asked the AG to assist in 2006 with a “bad-actor corporation” for environmental crimes, the AG indicated that local government (an arm of the state) would need to first request assistance.  While the AG could not help, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality did, and imposed a $74K slap on the wrist.  

          I see no jurisdiction, period, regarding the violation of civil laws in a different state.  If Massey commits relevant crimes in Virginia and the local government requests assistance, then the AG might be able to step in.  Otherwise, one should look to a relevant state agency for help, or even their local government.

          Of course, if your local or state government has political ties with local industry, good luck with that…