As America mourns the deaths of 25 miners at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia one thing is obvious: penalties for violating mine safety rules aren’t strong enough.
Last year the Upper Big Branch mine had 458 safety violations resulting in more than $897,325 in penalties of which $168,393 has been paid. Just last month the mine had 57 violations including not properly ventilating combustible methane gas.
The penalties for those violations obviously aren’t big enough. We need to increase the fines and penalties for safety violations so that companies like Massey simply can’t afford to break the rules.
It’s the only way to get them to do the right thing and follow safety laws.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis -- who oversees the Mine Safety & Health Administration -- has pledged that the miners' deaths in this tragedy “will not be in vain.” Send Secretary Holis a letter today asking her to make fines for safety violations strong enough to truly protect mineworkers.
The Upper Big Branch mine has had a long history of safety violations and was cited 57 times just last month. Obviously the penalties for violating mine safety rules are not strong enough.
I am writing to ask that you increase the fines -- by ten-fold -- to make sure that companies like Massey Energy can no longer afford to prioritize profits over worker safety.