West Virginia just hit a milestone with the first coal mining death of 2013. Brandon Townsend, 34, of Delbarton in Mingo County was killed at an eastern Kanawha County mine when a hydraulic jack exploded, according to the Charleston Daily Mail. I wonder how many more there will be,
Meanwhile, WV's 2012 mine safety legislation, which wasn't worth cracking open a really good bottle of wine over (sorry about ending that phrase with a preposition), still hasn't been implemented. Although it made some modest improvements in state law, plenty of people, including myself, were critical of its drug testing provisions, since drug abuse hasn't been a factor in any major mine disaster.
In other coal news, mining employment dropped in the last quarter of 2012, with a total of 1,200 jobs lost. Ken Ward reports that 2/3 of the losses occurred in surface mines.
Since I'm leaning pretty hard on Ken today, let me give a final shout out to this great post of his at Coal Tattoo, which asks, not for the first time, "When will W.Va. plan for 'after coal?'"
From what I can tell, the answer so far is, not any time soon.