It is no secret that our current administration is not what one would call coal friendly. At least coal is not a top priority of the Obama energy policy. I sat and watched a few years back as the Sago mine disaster unfolded in West Virginia. I am very familiar with the coal industry. I have several friends and relatives who have worked deep in a coal mine. I have lived in the coal mining belt all my life. As I stated Obama is not coal friendly. The current administration’s proposal to make our energy cleaner hits all forms of energy derived from fossil fuels hard, but none harder than the coal industry. The coal producing states and coal mining families have put up a proud fight to save the coal mines and the jobs that come with coal mining. This is not the 1930s any more like the coal mines are still portrayed today. It just seems like coal mining has gotten a dirty name these days (no pun intended).
Now comes what the coal industry may find to be the proverbial nail in the coffin. The mine explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. Let's go back a few years to the Sago mine disaster. When this happened within days after the disaster the West Virginia legislature and it's politicians seeking to be seen as sympathetic to the plight of the miners and their families they did what politicians do best which is the worst. They got involved and promised to change the laws so that this would not happen again. Ever notice nothing ever gets done fast in government that is unless it is connected to lots of votes. I mean come on any politician in the state of West Virginia that did not support stricter laws for coal mining would be seen as not caring about the miners and would be booted out of office. So what I call the kneejerk reaction set in. You know when you do something quick without thinking it over. Kinda like when you gave that women your REAL name and phone number late one night at the bar. Then later you wish you had not because nothing good can come from it.
Before I go any further, I would like to say the following. I really feel for the friends and family of the miner’s involved in the disasters in West Virginia. The loss of even one life is a tragedy. I know because I have had more than 1 relative die in the mines and a close friend’s father also. So I care.
That said, shortly after the Sago disaster I heard the Politian’s and I could not believe that anyone could or would say that we needed more mining laws. The fact is the coal mining industry may be one of the most regulated of all industries in America. Again this is not the 1930s when miners were paid squat and conditions were so bad they were beyond description. This is the 21st century now and the chance of getting killed in a coal mine is literally 1 in a million. According to MSHA and the U.S. Dept. of labor it is about 1 per 1 million hours worked. Based on a 40 hour workweek a miner would work just under 42,000 hours in 20 years. For a miner that means it is far more likely you will die in a car wreck than in the coal mine. So they do this kneejerk reaction not only in West Virginia but on the Federal level too. Can't let your Senator or Congressmen go around looking un-compassionate.
On the Federal Government side this latest mine disaster will be used to fuel the fire under Obama's Cap and Trade energy bill. Then on the United Mine Workers side it will fuel more for the miner. One thing is fer certain it will cost the coal mining companies more thus raising the cost to get the fuel we need to power America. This will make you, me, and our employers pay more or put our American coal companies out of business because it will be cheaper to buy foreign coal making us more not less dependent for our energy because foreign countries are willing to take the risk of a few lives to feed America's energy hunger and as long as it is lives lost other than American's and it won't be front page news (out of sight out of mind) we really won't care.
Regulation drives up cost. In some cases regulation cost are the highest part of doing business. Hey an idea, how about not importing foreign coal unless they follow the same regulations. Ever hear of a fair playing field. American's can compete but not if the other side is given an unfair advantage.
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