U.S. Mine Safety – more obstacles have arisen


Bituminous coal seam in southwestern West Virginia

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Once again, government actions to improve a situation, in this case domestic mine safety, have caused unintended consequences. Regulating an industry is not an easy job. On Oct. 12, the Wash Post reported: Obama push to unclog backlog of contested mine-safety citations is backfiring.

After a West Virginia coal mine explosion in April exposed a weak link in a system designed to identify safety violations, the government has spent $23 million to reform the system. A key objective: reducing a two-year logjam of citations under appeal, to ensure more effective responses from the industry to possible hazards. Instead, the list of unresolved safety appeals has grown to 18,100 cases, from 16,600 at the time of the disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine. The explosion killed 29 men.

The increase has occurred, safety experts said, because more citations are being issued, and companies are fighting back harder than ever. The result is that instead of revolutionizing mine safety in the wake of the worst mining disaster in 40 years, some experts said government officials have succeeded only in generating increased litigation.

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