Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sago Mine Deaths and Bush Cronyism

12 people dead in a West Virginia mining accident because mining safety regulations are not being enforced. So who is in charge at the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. If your first guess is a Bush crony, you would be correct.

Holding the top job at the MSHA is an executive that previously worked for Utah's Energy West Mining Company. David Lauriski and his top two deputies were recruited from mining companies. Their boss, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, is the wife of Kentucky's Republican senator Mitch McConnell, a long time political ally of coal companies. It appears that the federal mine safety inspectors on the ground are doing their job, but there is no enforcement of safety regulations.

In 2004, the Sago mine had an accident and injury rate of 15.9 per 200,000 man hours worked. That rate has since increased to 17.04. The national average rate is 5.66. A mine of similar size, in WV, (Kingston Mining #1) had an accident rate of 1.21. The MSHA has been issuing citations but little enforcement seems to be taking place. Federal inspectors fined the Sago mine more than $24,000 for roughly 202 violations in 2005, according to federal records. Wow, $120 per violation! That would make me sit up and take notice of safety violations.

The Sago mine also happens to employ non-unionized labor, so there isn't much the mine workers can do to influence enforcement of mine safety regulations.


stevo said...

I'm exploring the Bush crony angle myself, but wanted to offer a clarification: Lauriski resigned (due to "personal circumstances") in Nov. 2004.

David G. Dye is now the Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety & Health:

phil said...

For even more evidence of the cronyism and incompetence of the busheviks, take a look at this site: