Apr 15, 2010 12:12 PM by Letitia Walker
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama ordered an exhaustive
federal review of coal mine safety Thursday and asked Congress to
strengthen existing laws "riddled with loopholes."
"I refuse to accept any number of miner deaths as simply a cost
of doing business," Obama told reporters in the Rose Garden,
vowing to step up scrutiny of coal mine safety standards in the
aftermath of the April 5 explosion at a Massey Energy Co. mine in
West Virginia where 29 miners were killed.
Obama said the government would act to quickly get inspectors
into mines across the nation that have "troubling safety
"Owners responsible for conditions in the Upper Big Branch mine
should be held accountable for decisions they made and preventative
measures they failed to take," he said.
The president said that when miners go to work, "they ought to
know that behind them is a company that's doing what it should to
protect them" and that they have "a government looking out for
"If a tragedy can be prevented, it must be prevented," Obama
said. He told federal mine safety officials to work closely with
state counterparts to improve mine safety.
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin on Wednesday ordered state safety
officials to inspect all underground mines in the state
immediately, beginning with ones that had been cited for
Obama said he directed Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to work
closely with Congress to "strengthen existing laws" and to close
loopholes. He cited "endless litigation" on the part of mining
companies "to evade their responsibility."
"We can't just hold mining companies accountable. We have to
hold Washington accountable," the president said.
Inadequate ventilation and a build up of methane gas is believed
to have been a factor in the explosion at Massey's Upper Big Branch
mine in Montcoal, W.Va. That mine had a history of safety
Obama spoke after receiving a preliminary report about the Upper
Big Branch mine from Solis and Mine Safety and Health Administrator
Joe Main. He said their report showed there are far too many mines
where safety is inadequate