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Ear to the Ground

Obama Calls for Probe of Coal Mine Tragedy

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Posted on Apr 10, 2010
Wikimedia Commons

The logo of Massey Energy Corp.

President Barack Obama has demanded an investigation into the deaths of 29 miners after an explosion in a West Virginia coal mine brought new and widespread attention to hazards in the mining industry.

The explosion marks the worst U.S. mining accident in nearly 40 years.

The corporate operator of the mine, Massey, is the largest coal producer in the central Appalachia region and has witnessed a drop in its stock price of nearly 10 percent since the accident. It is defending its safety record in the face of intense criticism over the West Virginia deaths.—JCL

Reuters:

President Barack Obama demanded accountability on Saturday after four missing West Virginia coal miners were found dead, nearly five days after an explosion killed 25 others in the worst U.S. mining disaster in nearly four decades.

The four bodies were found in an area of the Massey Energy mine briefly searched after the blast on Monday but missed by rescuers because of heavy smoke, Kevin Stricklin of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration told reporters.

“We cannot bring back the men we lost. What we can do, in their memory, is thoroughly investigate this tragedy and demand accountability,” Obama said in a statement.

Rescue teams found the miners on their fourth attempt after earlier efforts were thwarted by thick smoke, fire and an explosive build-up of methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

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By reynolds, April 12, 2010 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

oooh, a probe; that will send massey scurrying,
scurrying to lobbyists with more and bigger bags of
cash. it would be more honorable to do nothing about
this than to pretend to do something about it.

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By Steve E, April 12, 2010 at 1:04 am Link to this comment

Barry is demanding accountability. I wonder if he, like many actors, must syke
himself up for these theatrics especially since his administration dropped the ball
on regulation. Yeah, I know things are suppose to be better than Bush and
Company.

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By berniem, April 11, 2010 at 6:16 pm Link to this comment

Average citizens or small businesses, when they break the law or violate rules and regulations, get hit with significant, often crippling fines and other punitive sanctions including loss of licenses and permits. Why is it that large corporations can repeatedly be cited for the same hazardous, destructive,and illegal activities and be fined laughably miniscule amounts, which they often scoff at paying or pass on to the consumer or receive sanctions which have no effect on their business dealings or profit margins? How can sociopathic company like Massey NOT have it’s charter revoked and slime like Blankenship not brought to account for his overseeing of the atrocities committed in the name of “running coal”? Could it be that he too has ownership rights to our illustrious public servants(especially those of the elephantine persuasion)? By the way, what ever happened to that other loud mouthed, arrogant, and defiant bastard from Colorado who’s mine caved in due to an “earthquake” a couple of years back? How many of the ruling elite did he own?

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 11, 2010 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

Accountability? How does that work, like how we see the government is accountable to lobbyists, so when one retires from the Congress or their government job they become lobbieists?

The Feds asking people to be accountable, is this like the pope asking people to become atheist’s.

After seeing the horse and pony show of how the feds held Wall Street accountable, maybe the feds need to give mine owners a bale out?

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By Hank from Nebraska, April 11, 2010 at 6:55 am Link to this comment

This is obviously a tragedy, but it pales next to the continued use of coal as a fuel.  The carbon emissions from coal kill thousands daily, and they could sink humanity altogether.  Let’s keep the focus where it should be, and that is on stopping the use of coal as a fuel.  We especially need to debunk the “clean coal” campaign.  Coal usage will certainly kill more miners, but is will kill do many millions of others.  Miners are dying so that others can die.  Does any of this make any sense?

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By gerard, April 10, 2010 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment

Good heavens!  It’s not just the Obama Adminstration, Lost Hills.  This has been going on since I was born in Pittsburgh in 1914!  No administration has ever seriously attempted to bring the owners of coal mines in line.  Or other mines. Or steel mills.  Or any other enterprises not watched over by unions.  Why do you think it is so difficult to form a union in this country, and almost impossible to keep it from being managed from the top down instead of from the workers up? It is only logical and fair that workers should have honest representation of their point of view, yet it is almost impossible to organize and maingain any union, fair or otherwise.  Try striking for unjust wages or unfair treatment and see what it gets you—the police department in full force on the side of “management.”  And jail time for organizers. Unfrtunately, the “fat cats” own the country and if you don’t believe it, read a history of the lavor movement in America.
  And while you are at it, study teachers’ unions, and why they are so hated by “management” and the government because they are somewhat successful.
  One problem is that manual laborers generally lack both education and social acceptance, being underprivileged minorities, generally speaking.  That’s why labor unions in the film industry, for instance, are generally stronger and more successful; the members are better educated.
  At least that’s my take.

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By LostHills, April 10, 2010 at 6:01 pm Link to this comment

This tragedy represents a serious failure by the Obama administration, who have
let the people down again by coddling the fat cats and allowing them to flaunt
our laws. Stop allowing these corporate criminals to appeal their safety violations
and force them out of business if they won’t maintain safe working conditions for
American citizens.

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By Jimnp72, April 10, 2010 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment

The BlankenBrain dude shoud fry for this. Talk about a corporate pig, he is the full
embodiment of one out of a crappy tv movie about polluters.
Too bad it wasnt him that perished down there the way he had his poor
employees do.
This is the same porker who is an avid fan of mountaintop removal and the falsity
of global warming.

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By gerard, April 10, 2010 at 2:34 pm Link to this comment

Analyze the logo.  Says it all, right there in bald-faced black and red tyranny.
  So much for Obama’s “clean coal.” If you want to know the truth, read more about Appalachian mining.
  But don’t forget the economics of this:  Coal mining depends on cheap labor from inadequately educated poor people who have no other way to earn a living for their families.
  And don’t forget the economcs of “Average Americans”. They do not know much about industrial abuses like this because our culture teaches them as kids that the more money you have, the “better” you are. America is a free country where everybody has an equal chance to “climb the ladder of success.” Therefore those at the bottom of the ladder aren’t worth much.  Right?  Wrong!
  Between one thing and another, we are in for a nation-wide re-evaluation of our economic system, and behind that, of our unethical business and political processes.  High time and not a minute too soon. Time for real restructuring to grow some legs.
Justice is calling us.

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