Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Friends of Coal?

While I realize that not only does coal power 99% of WV's electricity and coal mining provides about 30,000 jobs in WV, the economy is serviced by the Coal Severance Tax which adds around $214 million into West Virgnina's economy each year. All of those facts aside,  it is very hard to digest the bumper sticker seen above when you hear the stories of the families who were affected in the latest mining tradegy. 

On Monday at 3 PM the explosion in the Upper Big Branch mine rocked through the subterranen walls of this mine in Raleigh County, WV. The mine's operating company, Performance Coal Co.(a subsidiary of Massey Energy) didn't even call the victim's families to let them know of the catastrophe. Most of the victim's families learned of the explosion from governmental officials or media outlets. This giant company, that has made it's fortune from the miners that have risked their lives in the underground mines, couldn't extend the smallest courtesy of a phone call.

How can a mine such as this one be allowed to continue to operate after one of the deadliest mining disasters in a decade? Furthermore, how was this mine even allowed to remain operational after the hundreds of mine violations in the last few months?

I recognize our country's dependence on coal and the industry of coal mining, but when the coal and energy company's no longer value the human lives that it takes to power this industry, we have a problem! From all accounts that I have read, it seems that the company's official statement is that they are "taking every action to locate and rescue those still missing." While this statement doesn't change the fact that 25 families are missing brothers, husbands, and fathers, it does give you a glimmer of hope that the company cares about its employees and not just the bottom line. I am sure the families of those missing and dead would like to put their faith in that. As these families mourned the loss of their loved ones, Massey Energy shares ended the trading day down 11.4%.

Which of those numbers is more likely to register with the energy company, 25 dead or stocks down 11.4%?

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