Since the Bush administration took office in 2001, it has been more lenient than its predecessors 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 investigation has found.John asks if the Bush administration killed the 12 miners in West Virginia. No, it did not, and we should refrain from that sort of demagogery.
At one point last year, the Mine Safety and Health Administration fined a coal company $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 last week.
The $440 fine remains unpaid.
But we can legitimately consider to what extent an environment of safety regulation roll backs and lax enforcement contributes to these sorts of accidents occurring. We might also ask why people are being appointed to regulatory positions from the very same companies that they are supposed to be regulating.