Saturday, March 12, 2016

KY Senate Repugs Out to Kill Remaining Coal Miners

Literally kill them. This isn't reducing paperwork.  This is taking oxygen tanks and fire-resistant clothes away from firefighters.  Safety inspections are the only thing standing between miners and death.

On Wednesday, the 40th anniversary of the Scotia coal mine explosions in Letcher County that killed 26 people, a Senate committee passed two bills to roll back the state’s mine-safety laws.

Senate Bill 297 would end state safety inspections of coal mines, leaving the task to federal inspectors. Senate Bill 224 would end mandatory state safety training for mine foremen, giving coal companies the option of offering their own training for foremen to save money.
The votes came 40 years to the hour after an explosion caused by the build-up of coal dust and methane rocked the Scotia mine near the Oven Fork community. Two days after the blast, a second explosion occurred. The death toll was 26 miners and mine inspectors; faulty equipment and inadequate ventilation were blamed.


Only one lawmaker, Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, voted against Girdler’s bill. Jones said the language would leave state mine safety analysts without legal authority to issue citations, shut down a mine or file a report with their superiors if they witnessed dangerous problems while in a mine. State mine inspectors tend to be more knowledgeable and thorough than their federal counterparts, Jones said.

Mine safety analysts should not have to remain passive, simply offering recommendations, in the face of serious violations, Jones said.

“There would be no enforcement mechanism,” Jones said. “I think this bill may go a little bit too far on the safety issue.”
 Jones isn't the only state senator representing coal miners, just the only one willing to stand up to the industry and the repug nihilists.

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