"House Panel Divided Over Need for New Mine Safety Law"

"Four years after tragedies in Kentucky and West Virginia prompted sweeping mine safety changes, a House panel Tuesday split along party lines over the need for additional reforms.

Acting in response to April's Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in West Virginia that killed 29 miners, a group of House Democrats on July 1 introduced legislation aimed at fixing what its lead sponsor, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., called 'serious flaws in our nation's mine safety laws.'

Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, acknowledged that investigations into the Upper Big Branch accident are continuing. But he said at his committee's hearing Tuesday on the new safety legislation, 'We already understand the disastrous results when a miner operates on the margins of safety in order to put more coal on the belt.'

Republicans said the Democrats were moving too quickly, before all the facts of the accident are known or the federal government's role in oversight is understood."

James R. Carroll reports for the Louisville Courier-Journal July 13, 2010.

Thursday, July 15, 2010