robert c. byrd “mining safety act” killed in the house

Rallying the Miners, 1931, Herbert Paus.

h/t to grapefruit moon gallery

Just shy of a year after the West Virginia Massey mining disaster, house republicans have blocked a move by democrats to implement the Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety protection Act before the house turns republican early next year. George Miller (D) of California sought to pass the measure by bringing the measure up for a vote:

Current law on “patterns of violations” has so many loopholes that it invites delays and allows some coal mine operators to game the system.

Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine was a perfect example of an operator repeatedly skirting the law and putting workers’ lives in the crosshairs.

The Upper Big Branch mine was subject to 515 violations and 54 withdrawal orders in 2009, more than any other mine in the country. Red flags were waving about this mine’s repeated unwarrantable failures.

And yet, because Massey indiscriminately appealed many of these violations, it evaded stronger sanctions that would have improved conditions and saved lives.

The bill sets clear and fair criteria to identify mines with significant safety problems and eliminate the incentives for mine owners that game the system.

Had this been in place, I believe the 29 miners who lost their lives at Upper Big Branch would be alive today.

Looks like it’s back to the future time again. And pretty soon that lovely and rare old painting celebrating the struggles of the past will look positively avant-garde. I think I’m already there.

Or, as a long lost friend of mine (John Baird) said back in the 70’s in creative euphony, “In the future people will have nostalgia for the future”. Which I suppose in retrospect, means nostalgia for a future.

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