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Blankenship to Testify Before Congress at Safety Hearing requested by Senator Byrd

HUGE news. Don Blankenship will testify before Congress next week alongside UMWA President Cecil Roberts, whose impassioned testimony drew quite a reaction a few weeks ago before the Senate HELP Committee. (.pdf)

Senator Byrd has accused Massey of “scoffing and laughing at” repeated MSHA violations at the Upper Big Branch mine prior to the disaster that killed 29 men.

The hearing will seek to address funding issues in regards to mining safety. Appalachian Voices and the community is asking Congress to provide safe mines and safe communities in the coalfields by improving mine safety and ending mountaintop removal. Join 3000 people who have signed our letter to Congressman Rahall here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Robert Byrd (D-WV), the senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, announced today that the panel will hold a hearing to discuss the need to provide additional federal funding for mine safety. The hearing will be held Thursday, May 20 at 2:00 PM in room 106 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The hearing will also be webcast at

“The entire nation mourned the recent loss of 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia. As Chairman of the HELP Committee, I am examining possible legislation that would make a number of policy changes in the area of mine safety. But additional Federal appropriations are also needed to help prevent similar disasters, particularly when it comes to reducing the backlog of appeals at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission,” said Harkin. “Senator Byrd requested this important hearing and I am happy to examine this critical area.”

“I would like to thank Chairman Harkin, a fellow son of a coal miner, for agreeing to hold this very important hearing at my request,” added Byrd. “This is a good beginning to a process that I hope will lead to substantial and long-overdue changes. We must examine the level of resources allocated to our mine regulatory agencies to ensure that, in this day and age, tragedies like the one at Upper Big Branch mine are prevented in the future.”

The witness list as it currently stands follows:

Panel I
The Honorable Joseph A. Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, U. S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C.
The Honorable M. Patricia Smith, Solicitor of Labor , U. S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C.
John Howard, M.D., Director, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
Mary Lu Jordan, Chairman, Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, Washington, D.C.

Panel II
Don L. Blankenship, Chairman and CEO, Massey Energy Company, Richmond, Virginia
Cecil Roberts, International President, United Mine Workers of America, Fairfax, Virginia





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