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Less enforcement is seen at mines (Bush's Fault)
HoustonChronicle ^ | Jan. 6, 2006, 10:33PM | SETH BORENSTEIN,, LINDA J. JOHNSON and LEE MUELLE

Posted on 01/07/2006 5:03:56 AM PST by cbkaty

Bush called more lenient on those facing serious safety violations

WASHINGTON - Since the Bush administration took office in 2001, it has been more lenient toward mining companies facing serious safety violations, issuing fewer and smaller major fines and collecting less than half of the money that violators owed, a Knight Ridder Newspapers investigation has found.

At one point last year, the Mine Safety and Health Administration fined a coal company a scant $440 for a "significant and substantial" violation that ended in the death of a Kentucky man. The firm, International Coal Group Inc., is the same company that owns the Sago mine in West Virginia, where 12 workers died this week. The $440 fine remains unpaid.

Relaxed mine safety enforcement is widespread, according to a Knight Ridder analysis of federal records and interviews with former and current federal safety officials, even though deaths and injuries from mining accidents have hovered near record low levels in the past few years.

The analysis shows:

•The number of major fines over $10,000 has dropped by nearly 10 percent since 2001. The dollar amount of those penalties, when adjusted for inflation, has plummeted 43 percent to a median of $27,584.

•Less than half of the fines levied between 2001 and 2003 — about $3 million — have been paid.

•The budget and staff for the enforcement office also have declined.

•In serious criminal cases, guilty pleas and convictions fell 54.8 percent since 2001. In the first four years of the Bush administration, the federal government has averaged 3.5 criminal convictions a year; in the four years before that the average was 7.75 per year.

Officials at the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Department of Labor didn't respond by Friday evening to a list of 13 e-mail questions or to a request for an interview.

Davitt McAteer, who headed the mine safety agency during the Clinton administration, said it has become a "paper tiger."

McAteer said that without the stick of high fines, mandated payments of those penalties and consistent follow-up inspections, there's little incentive for companies to repair safety problems.

'Increased enforcement' The mine safety agency touts on its Web site statistics showing the agency's "overall record of increased enforcement against mine operators during this Administration."

Those statistics show that in 2005, the agency issued 4 percent more violation notices for all mines than it did in 2000 and that the number of coal mine violations issued increased by 18 percent. The agency also touted a 13 percent increase in "significant and substantial" violations.

But those numbers hide the fact that most of those fines are so small that they're meaningless to big coal and mining companies, said Dennis O'Dell, a health and safety administrator for the United Mine Workers of America union.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Kentucky; US: West Virginia
KEYWORDS: bush; mining; msha; violations
Hmmm...Bush's fault....
1 posted on 01/07/2006 5:03:59 AM PST by cbkaty
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To: cbkaty

right after the breaking news about the explosion i told my husband it would be President Bush's fault. these people are really pitiful...and i hope the people that have been listening to them start to wake up!


2 posted on 01/07/2006 5:06:29 AM PST by ferri (Be Politically Incorrect: Support the Constitution!)
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To: cbkaty
WASHINGTON - Since the Bush administration took office in 2001, it has been more lenient toward mining companies facing serious safety violations

This is getting tiresome. I mean, to the point where I would become seriously irritated if I actually heard a liberal imply this in front of me.

3 posted on 01/07/2006 5:08:06 AM PST by Caipirabob (Democrats.. Socialists..Commies..Traitors...Who can tell the difference?)
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To: cbkaty
From this link on ICG's Wilbur Ross:

Ross doesn't hesitate to extract any advantage he can in Washington. A longtime giver to Democratic candidates, he was a major fund-raiser for Bill Clinton, but his pragmatic side has him courting the opposition at the moment. These days, he's down in Washington every week to argue his view on trade and the need to protect American jobs. With their eye on next year's election, lawmakers and the political staff at the White House have welcomed meetings with Ross. He has put together something called the Free Trade for America Coalition. With 70-odd members, the protectionist group ranges from labor unions to corporations to agricultural interests and is a formidable lobbying machine. He likes to portray himself as helping to publicize a groundswell of popular discontent at the demise of American manufacturing. But make no mistake: He expects WL Ross to profit. "We are not," he assures, "an eleemosynary institution."

4 posted on 01/07/2006 5:09:58 AM PST by mewzilla (Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist. John Adams)
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To: mewzilla
BTW, has anyone else noticed that CNN's expert on all things mining-related is a guy from the UMW, one Dennis O'Dell. Gee, no bias there, eh?
5 posted on 01/07/2006 5:11:06 AM PST by mewzilla (Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist. John Adams)
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To: cbkaty
"Those statistics show that in 2005, the agency issued 4 percent more violation notices for all mines than it did in 2000 and that the number of coal mine violations issued increased by 18 percent. The agency also touted a 13 percent increase in "significant and substantial" violations."

These are the actual and relevant facts, but they are put at the end of the article and are then immediately discounted by two partisan sources, with no comment from a representative from the agency itself.

This is an obvious hit piece, with the conclusion written before any research was done. Sickening.
6 posted on 01/07/2006 5:12:04 AM PST by Ninian Dryhope ("Bush lied, people dyed. Their fingers." The inestimable Mark Steyn)
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To: mewzilla
Sadly...the constant anti-Bush drumbeat seems to be taking a toll....

The good news is the demo-dopes are the most rabid and many are just too stoned to vote.... Bwahahahahahaha

7 posted on 01/07/2006 5:15:29 AM PST by cbkaty (I may not always post...but I am always here......)
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To: Ninian Dryhope
This is an obvious hit piece, with the conclusion written before any research was done. Sickening.

If it makes it into the Houston Comical...it's a hit piece...I assure you.

8 posted on 01/07/2006 5:16:51 AM PST by cbkaty (I may not always post...but I am always here......)
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To: cbkaty

It's Bush's fault... Rush Limbaugh predicted this mine incident would be somehow blamed on Bush by the libs and co... behold! the prophecy has come to fruition! lmao... this is getting ridiculous... whine whine whine


9 posted on 01/07/2006 5:18:49 AM PST by Cinnamon
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To: Cinnamon
I worked in coal mine operations in the 1980s and can tell you MSHA gives no slack on mine safety. The inspectors are professional, hardworking, dedicated your appeal is to their bosses at the Department of Labor, so you've got to watch your language.
I don't, however, understand how this particular mine was allowed to operate with so many violations. New ownership doesn't make any difference in enforcement. MSHA rates your fines on the history of violations, among other factors. The more you get, the more they cost and a lot of them can lead to a Cessation Order, which means coal mining stops.
10 posted on 01/07/2006 5:25:29 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks (Don't buy Bose. Their warranty is no good.)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks

this mina had already been cite for hundreds of violations right? is it possible this negligence leading to the up to the accident was part of the local miner culture?


11 posted on 01/07/2006 5:28:41 AM PST by Cinnamon
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To: cbkaty

barf alert. No mention of getting government off the backs of energy producers so they can make a reasonable profit and provide much needed power to America.


12 posted on 01/07/2006 5:30:09 AM PST by balch3
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To: balch3

I also heard a stat recently, maybe from Limbaugh, that more journos than miners have been killed this year.


13 posted on 01/07/2006 5:31:11 AM PST by mewzilla (Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist. John Adams)
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To: cbkaty

BostonBlackie just posted this.

Coal mine production reached the highest levels in history in recent years. In 2004 coal mining fatalities were near the lowest level in history with 28. Even with the recent high production, MSHA’s accident reduction efforts helped to keep the annual fatality totals nearly 50% lower in recent years compared with totals recorded in the early 1990s.

1. Clinton’s last year in office, 2000, there were 48 deaths in coal mines. In 2004, there were 28

2. The injury rate in 2000 was 6.64, in 2004 it was 5.00

3. Citations for safety violations in 2000: 58,285; Citations for violations in 2004: 64,635 (this would indicate to me more rigorous enforcement under Bush, especially after having cut back on coal industry enforcement jobs as the Democrats claim. Sounds to me like the Clinton administration was asleep at the switch)


(Excerpt) Read more at punditreview.com ...


14 posted on 01/07/2006 5:32:32 AM PST by poobear (Imagine a world of liberal silence!)
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To: Cinnamon

I don't know. 240 in a year or even five years is a lot. We had 65 men, three dragline pits and a wash plant and never came close to this figure. I'd sure want to talk to the local MSHA inspector and ask why this place was allowed to operate at all.


15 posted on 01/07/2006 5:32:33 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks (Don't buy Bose. Their warranty is no good.)
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To: Willie Green; Wolfie; ex-snook; Jhoffa_; FITZ; arete; FreedomPoster; Red Jones; Pyro7480; ...
The budget and staff for the enforcement office also have declined.

We need less regulations. We need to bring safety to the level of China for American workers to be able to compete.

16 posted on 01/07/2006 5:32:45 AM PST by A. Pole (Thomas Jefferson: "We are infinitely better off without treaties of commerce with any nation.")
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To: cbkaty

What took them so long?

(I'm also waiting for Bush to be blamed for USC's loss in the Rose Bowl...)



17 posted on 01/07/2006 5:33:36 AM PST by Fintan (Why do we drive on a parkway and park in a driveway?)
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To: A. Pole
"We need to bring safety to the level of China for American workers to be able to compete."

The one trick pony strikes again.
18 posted on 01/07/2006 5:36:58 AM PST by Ninian Dryhope ("Bush lied, people dyed. Their fingers." The inestimable Mark Steyn)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks

Maybe it has something to do with underground mining vs aboveground. I would think undrground is quite a bit more dangerous.


19 posted on 01/07/2006 5:42:34 AM PST by balch3
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To: cbkaty

This mine was in West Virginia, why wasnt old Byrd Turd looking out for his constituents? Has he so much as sent them a letter of condolence? I havent heard a word ,I guess he is practicing his fiddle playing.


20 posted on 01/07/2006 5:43:01 AM PST by sgtbono2002
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To: ferri

unbelievable ......


21 posted on 01/07/2006 5:47:17 AM PST by mcg2000 (New Orleans: The city that declared Jihad against The Red Cross.)
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To: Caipirabob
I mean, to the point where I would become seriously irritated if I actually heard a liberal imply this in front of me.

It's not worth the effort. From my experience it's more effective to just smile, shake your head, and say "You actually believe that crap? I thought you were educated!"

Gets 'em every time.....let them exercise their blood pressure for a change...

22 posted on 01/07/2006 5:56:04 AM PST by Thermalseeker
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To: cbkaty
Hmmmm...this article sure doesn't jive with this article!?!

- - - - - - - - -

Coal mine production reached the highest levels in history in recent years. In 2004 coal mining fatalities were near the lowest level in history with 28. Even with the recent high production, MSHA’s accident reduction efforts helped to keep the annual fatality totals nearly 50% lower in recent years compared with totals recorded in the early 1990s.

1. Clinton’s last year in office, 2000, there were 48 deaths in coal mines. In 2004, there were 28

2. The injury rate in 2000 was 6.64, in 2004 it was 5.00

3. Citations for safety violations in 2000: 58,285; Citations for violations in 2004: 64,635 (this would indicate to me more rigorous enforcement under Bush, especially after having cut back on coal industry enforcement jobs as the Democrats claim. Sounds to me like the Clinton administration was asleep at the switch)

23 posted on 01/07/2006 5:56:51 AM PST by harpu ( "...it's better to be hated for who you are than loved for someone you're not!")
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To: harpu
oops...a better link.
24 posted on 01/07/2006 5:58:48 AM PST by harpu ( "...it's better to be hated for who you are than loved for someone you're not!")
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To: Thermalseeker
Gets 'em every time.....let them exercise their blood pressure for a change...

I'll try it. You're right, they aren't worth my time.

25 posted on 01/07/2006 6:09:56 AM PST by Caipirabob (Democrats.. Socialists..Commies..Traitors...Who can tell the difference?)
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To: cbkaty

NBC wanted to know why it took so long for a federal response.


26 posted on 01/07/2006 6:19:30 AM PST by Bear_Slayer
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To: balch3

The dangers are different but just as deadly. I had three damned close calls in the surface mine where I worked. They involved flyrock, a dragline operator who couldn't see my pickup and almost knocked me off the bench and failed brakes on a pit haul dump truck.


27 posted on 01/07/2006 6:28:18 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks (Don't buy Bose. Their warranty is no good.)
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To: cbkaty

Guarantee that Tim Russert will be citing some bogus statistics on his show, proving Bush killed the miners!

Question - where are Jay Rockefeller and Robert Byrd? Aren't these a-hole senators responsible for their own state? I haven't seen them ONCE on TV.


28 posted on 01/07/2006 7:12:12 AM PST by GianniV
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To: A. Pole
" We need less regulations. We need to bring safety to the level of China for American workers to be able to compete."

Good one! If the government inspectors thought the mines were unsafe, they should have closed them until they were safe. Government closes local restaurants because they fail health inspections. 'Issuing reports' does not cut it without enforcement.

29 posted on 01/07/2006 7:14:50 AM PST by ex-snook (God of the Universe, God of Creation, God of Love, thank you for life.)
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To: Bear_Slayer

Stupid.


30 posted on 01/07/2006 7:17:47 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks (Don't buy Bose. Their warranty is no good.)
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To: A. Pole
We need less regulations. We need to bring safety to the level of China for American workers to be able to compete.

No. We need temporary guest workers, who will be willing to work for $0.15 per day with no bathroom breaks and who don't care about the safety requirements.

31 posted on 01/10/2006 2:13:59 PM PST by Euro-American Scum (A poverty-stricken middle class must be a disarmed middle class)
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