Front Porch Blog

New OSM Chief Dangerous?

From the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader:

One of the industry apologists who rolled back mine-safety protections is President Bush’s choice to head the agency that oversees strip-mining.

Unbelievable, but true.

Thousands of Kentuckians depend on the U.S. Office of Surface Mining to protect them from strip-mining’s worst abuses, including blasting that destroys their property, road building that sends boulders crashing down on homes and poisonous run-off into streams and groundwater.

Nothing in John Correll’s tenure at the Mine Safety and Health Administration, where he was one of Dave Lauriski’s two top deputies, recommends him for this appointment.

Just the opposite…

John Correll, in a pattern we are seing more and more, was hand-picked to regulate the industry upon whose profits he built his name. He has cut emergency and aid services for miners at the Mining Safety and Health Administration, including measures that would have increased emergency breathing mechanisms for trapped miners.

Unfortunately, the head of the Department of the Interior disagrees with the linked editorial, and recommends Correll highly. Sheesh….

Correll was part of the leadership team that axed safety rules that would have beefed up mine rescue teams and required flame-resistant conveyor belts, changes that might well have saved miners’ lives in recent months.

Bush appointees at MSHA changed the agency’s focus from enforcement to working with the industry.

They withdrew or delayed 18 mine-safety rules, including an increase in emergency breathing devices, requiring manufacturer expiration dates on the devices and more frequent inspectors.

The lone survivor of the Sago mine disaster, where 12 men perished, has said that some of the trapped miners couldn’t make their breathing devices work.

But even without those life-and-death issues, Correll would be a questionable person to head the agency that’s responsible for protecting Appalachia’s water, land and private property from damage by strip mining and mountaintop removal.

Read the whole thing.





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