[note: this was previously posted in May. A comment by a CNN lady was posted today to it. I tried to republish the whole thing with comments today. The comments don't republish. Please go down this page and punch Archives May 2006, and you will have this same blog on our screen, with two comments attached. Basically the lady said that President Bush was scheduled to sign the new coal mine safety bill into law this morning. I pray it will be sufficient, and that you won't be reading about any more coal miners suffocating in the mines. If I am in Congress next January, I plan to try and get on the coal mine safety subcommittee.]
Kenneth Stepp worked in Harlan County, Kentucky in 2002-2004 as an Assistant Public Advocate for the Kentucky State government. It grieves me to read about unnecessary death and destruction in Harlan County--"bloody Harlan" as it used to be called in the old days.
I had previously contrasted the watered-down coal mine safety House bill supported by incumbent Republican Congressman Hal Rogers requiring coal mines to supply one hour of storage oxygen to each miner, to the strong coal mine safety proposal of that California Democrat requiring coal mines to supply two days' supply of storage oxygen to each miner working in underground coal mines.
The Militant, said the following about the recent tragedy in Harlan County Darby Mine:
"Harlan County coroner Philip Bianchi told the press that two of the miners died from the impact of the explosion and three from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Following the Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia, where 12 miners were trapped underground after a blast and died after running out of oxygen, MSHA issued emergency regulations requiring companies to provide self-rescuers with two hours of oxygen rather than one hour as currently required, said Smith. 'But MSHA has allowed the operators to go for months without implementing the new rule, saying they need time to order new devices,' the UMWA official said.
Miners have reported that even the current devices often don’t work properly. Jeff Ledford said in an interview published in the May 21 Lexington Herald-Leader that his brother Paul, who survived the Kentucky Darby blast, told him that his self-rescuer lasted only five minutes, not one hour. Paul Ledford reportedly passed out twice while crawling toward the mine’s entrance."
It is a shame that Hal Rogers in unwilling to use his power as a Congressman to protect the underground coal workers from large corporations cutting costs by cutting back on oxygen breathing equipment used in coal mines. Vote for Kenneth Stepp for U.S. House, KY-5 and vote for better coal mine safety through more effective Federal regulations of coal mine safety.