I didn’t hear much about this yesterday, but there was a hearing before the Senate subcommittee looking into the UT mine disaster last month. More evidence of how pathetic the Bush Administration is…and I agree with the president of the United Mineworkers (full disclosure: this is another union my company works with) that SOMEONE needs to be held responsible, especially when these details start coming to light:

Reporting from the hearing, and for the AFL-CIO blog, was Mike Hall:

Much of this morning?s hearing centered on a controversial mining plan submitted by Murray Energy Corp. and approved by MSHA [within 7 days!] that called for the use of ?retreat mining??a mining method most safety experts say is much more dangerous than conventional methods. That belief is boosted by the fact that the mine?s previous owner had ruled against its use because of safety concerns, says Mine Workers (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts.

[Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) chief] Stickler, Roberts and former MSHA administrator J. Davitt McAteer were among the witnesses at the Senate Appropriations Committee?s Labor, Health and Human Services subcommittee hearing. Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray turned down the subcommittee?s request to testify and now may be forced to appear. Says Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.): “First he says he?s too busy and now he says he?s too sick. I?m personally convinced that we need and will issue a subpoena here.”

Hmmmm…if I remember correctly, Murray was never too busy or too sick to appear before TV cameras…

Anyway, Murray has told the media that this is an “evil mountain.” I don’t know…I have a feeling the families may feel he’s an “evil man.” Again, from the AFL-CIO blog:

Roberts said the mine?s previous owner, Andalex Resources, already had extracted all the coal that could be mined safely. [He said,] “In essence, the only coal remaining in the mine was the barriers and pillars necessary to support the roof of the mine?s main entrance?.There can be no doubt that the mountain over the mine was exerting extreme pressure on the remaining coal, which was supporting the mine roof. Murray Energy was extracting that coal, using the pillar extraction method [retreat mining], at the time of the catastrophic collapse.”

After you read the AFL-CIO blog, check out the UMWA president’s post to Huffington Post here.

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