<\body> Stories in America: Republican Sen. Arlen Specter Criticizes Bush for Mining Spending Cuts

Monday, January 23, 2006

Republican Sen. Arlen Specter Criticizes Bush for Mining Spending Cuts

Here's an update on the mining story. The Senate had a mine safety hearing today. These are the kinds of issues the left should have no problem talking about. The larger problem is that today's news cycle isn't what it used to be. This story will disappear in just days and it takes time and effort to do the actual research:
"These deaths, I believe, were entirely preventable," said Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, citing recent budget cuts, staff reductions and "a culture of cronyism" as factors contributing to insufficient oversight by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

But David Dye, acting administrator of the mine safety agency, rejected the criticism. He told a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on mine safety that it was far too early to identify the cause of the accidents - the Jan. 2 explosion at the Sago Mine that killed 12 miners and the conveyer belt fire on Thursday that killed 2 miners at the Aracoma Alma Mine 1 near Melville.

"Until the joint investigation team can safely enter the mine to thoroughly examine the site, we will not know" what caused the Sago accident, Mr. Dye said.

Lawmakers grew increasingly frustrated with agency officials' answers.

Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the subcommittee on mining issues, criticized the administration for not keeping up with inflation in financing mine safety and said that over the last 10 years the agency's budget had been cut by $2.8 million, which led to the loss of the 183 staff members.

About midway through the two-hour hearing, Mr. Dye said that he had other matters to attend to and had to leave.

Senator Specter responded with frustration: "I can understand your pressing other business. It may well be that some of the senators here have pressing matters, too. We don't think we are imposing too much to keep you here for another hour."

After Mr. Specter added, "That's the committee's request, but you're not under subpoena," Mr. Dye got up and walked out.

"I can't recollect it ever happening before," Mr. Specter said. "We'll find a way to take appropriate note of it."

Meanwhile, West Virginia's state Senate unanimously passed a law requiring mine operators to store extra breathing packs in their mines and to provide miners with devices that would make it easier to locate them in times of emergency.

The law would also require coal operators to contact a new statewide hot line when accidents occur. Under the law, backed by Gov. Joe Manchin III, mine operators would face fines of $100,000 if they fail to report an accident within 15 minutes.


At 1/23/2006 5:54 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

By now, I think it's obvious to anyone reading this blog that Bush is responsible for pretty much every disaster on the planet. Fair enough, but this is what the New York Times had to say about Robert Byrd, who just happens to be the Senator from Virginia...

"For better or worse, coal is ever a prime economic resource for West Virginia - a lodestone for corporations, and still a millstone for too many miners. This has been true through the political ages, right up through the powerful reign of the state's Democratic favorite son, Senator Robert Byrd, who has packed West Virginia with highway projects and other pork-barrel goodies that have somehow failed to securely touch the lives of the long-suffering coal miners."

At 1/23/2006 6:27 PM, Blogger storiesinamerica said...

Timmy, I never said Bush is responsible for every disaster on the planet. That's a GOP talking point and you know it. If Clinton were still in office, I'd have the same exact opinions.

At 1/24/2006 9:06 AM, Anonymous timmy said...

You're right, you didn't say that. Apologies. But damn, what the hell is the job of a senator, a democrat senator of the people no less, if not to insure that the single biggest industry in his state is safe and fair to its workers?

Another question...will Robert Byrd speak out against the mining industry itself, or will the $21,000 a year they give him ensure that he keeps his ire pointed at Bush?

(And yes, that last question is rhetorical.)


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