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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

Federal regulations sometimes needed

Posted Wednesday, April 7, 2010, at 10:33 AM

Quite a few people complain about too much government regulation.

But here's where we need it.

As of now 25 men are dead in a West Virginia coal mine, arguably because its owners were more interested in profit than safety.

Reports indicate the government has fined Massey Energy Co. repeatedly for safety violations, but the firm so strongly contests them that only 16 percent of fines levied have been paid.

"Bombarding federal regulators with appeals is an increasingly common industry tactic," the Associated Press reports.

Some will probably claim problems like this would be solved by eliminating government regulation, as if an industry with a history of abuse would police itself. On the other extreme, would harsh punishment for an offending mine's corporate officials and top managers after preventable deaths -- such as hard labor for several years in prison -- have more effect than simply fines against corporations? That would, hopefully, be an extreme last resort. But, going by the number of alleged Massey violations, nothing else yet has affected their attitudes.

At least the government stepped in and tried. When health and safety are at issue, political maneuvering should be pushed aside and what's best for the public should come first.


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When health and safety are at issue, political maneuvering should be pushed aside and what's best for the public should come first.

Sorry David but the above is the cry of every dictatorial regime since the beginning of time.

Why does it have to be FEDERAL regulations?

Why not state? That would avoid the constitutional hurdle altogether, and would probably be a more responsive, effective solution.

-- Posted by quietmike on Wed, Apr 7, 2010, at 12:08 PM

If our government can run the auto industry and the banking industry, why not take over the management of unsafe mines. At least the auto industry and the banking industry are not killing workers.

-- Posted by chs61 on Wed, Apr 7, 2010, at 5:31 PM

At least the government stepped in and tried. When health and safety are at issue, political maneuvering should be pushed aside and what's best for the public should come first.

These men were not "the public". These were men trained to know the risks, many of them were brought up in the mining business. Yes, this company had a spotty safety record (two violations were found the morning of the accident) but if you check the record most mining companies are cited multiple times. All those citations and fines don't make these men any less dead.

Mining is dirty, dangerous and for most of them in Appalachia their only way of making a decent living. We depend on them. This is the first major accident in this country since 1984 and if you compare that with the number of man hours spent in the mines the companies and the UMW (the only necessary union in the country in my opinion) have done a good job. If you don't want to die in the mines, though, don't go in there.

-- Posted by Tim Baker on Wed, Apr 7, 2010, at 8:24 PM

quietmike, There is no constitutional hurdle. "Why not state?" - uniformity, corruption, enforcement, interstate commerce...

Tim Baker, in the same paragraph, you claim most who mine do so because they have no other way to make a decent living, then end with: "If you don't want to die in the mines, though, don't go in there." What exactly are you trying to get at? Half of what you wrote is dead on, but the other half appears to be somewhat disconnected from the realities of most mining communities.

Yes, many miners were brought up dependant upon the mines, but in many regards, that upbringing also limited their choices. Yes, we do depend on these miners, so why not demand the already mandated protections from those who operate the mines. We may ultimately have to pay a little more, but how many pennies a week are these people's lives worth? How about we ask their families? No, all of those citations do not bring these workers back, but how can we quantify how many have surly been spared because of them? Neither the companies themselves, nor the union, have policed and improved the safety conditions of miners. Sadly, the credit for improvements in safety must primarily go to the regulation and oversight (as weak as it is).

An accident is an accident. One equally, or even more tragic, could just as easily have happened in an office building, and it does happen from time to time. I am not advocating for 1500 pages of new regulations, just slightly more conscientious enforcement of existent and justifiable regulations.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Fri, Apr 9, 2010, at 3:11 AM

quietmike, There is no constitutional hurdle. "Why not state?" - uniformity, corruption, enforcement, interstate commerce...

-- Posted by memyselfi

What about the part where this mine already had several citations from federal regulatory agencies?

State laws, as opposed to federal, would prevent a lot of appeals in the federal courts.

The feds might have constitutional jurisdiction in this case under interstate commerce, but every issue shouldn't have a knee jerk reaction for a federal solution.

-- Posted by quietmike on Fri, Apr 9, 2010, at 3:52 AM

All federal legislation applies only in federal territories.

Did the federal Gov have the proper jurisdiction to regulate the mine. Was it on a federal territory or land or is it in the state.

Did the Gov lease the land from the state or given the land by the state?

The State has the jurisdiction in the state not the federal gov. therefore the state should be the one to regulate and fine or punish in this case.

This is just another example of the states giving benefits, privileges and tax breaks to corporations to come to their states.

If the state punishes them, it's biting the hand that feeds it and proving that the states aren't operating under the law of the land.

The people need to keep the federal gov out of their affairs as much as they can because soon the states won't have that right.

-- Posted by Unique-Lies on Sat, Apr 10, 2010, at 7:15 PM

chs61,

You posted: If our government can run the auto industry and the banking industry, why not take over the management of unsafe mines. At least the auto industry and the banking industry are not killing workers.

-{The Government bailed out the auto industry and the Financial industry with your money(so to speak) but they took over the control of them.

Look what has happened!

Finance company has failed again and needs bailing out again.

The auto industry is not selling vehicles like they want to so they are going to have to lay off thousands again.

The federal Gov. should not have given out all that money to irresponsible corporations and giants. And with the Government controlling them doesn't say much at all for the responsibility of our Fed. Gov.either.

The unemployment is too high. That is the problem! When the Feds lower the cost of living to provide jobs then things will level out, but until then it does no good the give money to build cars that the unemployed can't buy. Giving Finance companies money won't help unemployed people pay their mortgages or loans.

The federal Gov came in and screwed things up worse than they were.

After seeing this, would you still want the Federal Government to take over the management of unsafe mines?

The government can only take over control, but not improve anything except their right to take over the mining operations. Would that make the mines safer? Absolutely not! If you want something screwed up, just bring the Government into it.

-- Posted by Unique-Lies on Sat, Apr 10, 2010, at 7:36 PM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.