February 27, 2012

Back on track?

Yesterday, Feb. 26, marked the 40th anniversary of the Buffalo Creek disaster, when a coal waste dam owned by Pittston Coal broke collapsed, killing 125 people, wiping out several communities and leaving thousands homeless.

In other coal news, it looks like the mine safety bill under consideration in the WV legislature may be back on track despite efforts by coal industry lobbyists. You can find two different takes on it at the Gazette website. Statehouse columnist Phil Kabler sees it as a sign of the weakening power of the coal lobby as other major power players emerge:

How times have changed: After being moved to the inactive House calendar last week over objections from coal industry lobbyists, Gov.Earl Ray Tomblin's coal safety legislation (HB4351) is back on the active calendar and will be on amendment stage on the House floor this morning, after all sides worked out an agreement Friday.
Actually, not so much a compromise as the Tomblin administration and House leadership, under Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, drawing a line in the sand telling the industry no further concessions would be granted.
It wasn't too long ago that the process was the other way around. However, with competition from gambling interests, big Pharma and, increasingly, the gas/petrochemical industry, coal is not the predominant lobbying force at the Legislature anymore.
Meanwhile, Ken Ward at Coal Tattoo questions whether the legislation does all it could to protect miners.

I have mixed feelings. Far be it from me to question Ward's analysis of its weaknesses. But I am glad that mine safety is on the agenda at all and that  the original bill as proposed by the governor was improved by pressure from the House. And I think it is a significant victory that everyone didn't just, pardon the expression, cave in to the coal industry as has all too frequently happened in the past.

It's still not a done deal until it passes the full House and completes the process on the Senate side, so there is plenty of room for more surprises.

1 comment:

Hollowdweller said...

My 12th birthday was Feb 26, 1972 and we were driving to Charleston when we heard the news. My dad was taking me to the Kanawha Coin Shop for my birthday.

Well the governor said the flood was just an act of Gods own will.

But the strippers tear these mountains down it's enough to make me ill.

The rape of Appalachia for the greenback dollar bill.

Some say the flood was caused by rain some say melting snow.

Deep down in my heart I think the coal mine bosses know.

Mike Morningstar- Buffalo Creek,