There are a number of memorable quotes in theÂ Center for Study of Responsive Law's newly releasedÂ report "Undermining Safety: A Report on Coal Mine Safety."Â Â InÂ one section,Â report author Christopher W. Shaw discusses the mining industry's lobbying for "targeted inspections" (a la the OSHA model) instead of the currentÂ requirement for mandatory quarterly inspections.Â The AFL-CIO's secretary-treasurer Richard L. Trumka---a former coal miner---derided the notion of making MSHA more like OSHA:
"OSHA reminds me of an 18-year oldÂ Mexican Chihauhua dog that's lost its teeth and hides behind the furniture going 'bark, bark, bark'."Â
Ouch!Â for the chihauhua lovers out there, but TrumkaÂ doesn'tÂ mince any words about hisÂ views onÂ OSHA's relevance.
In another section, Shaw describes the mining industry's reluctance to invest voluntarily in more advanced safety equipment, that is, equipment not designed forÂ extracting coal.Â He quotes Bill Caylor, president of the Kentucky Â Coal Association, after state inspectorsÂ foundÂ 119 defective self-contained self-rescuers in active underground coal mines.Â Caylor said:
"I don't think it indicates a problem."
With a reality check, Ellen Smith, editor of Mine Safety and Health News, noted:
"It's not a problem unless you're one of the 119 miners [carrying] a defective device."
My final favorite quip in Shaw's report dates back toÂ 1973 from Arnold Miller, a former president of the United Mine Workers of America:
"I was raised in the coalfields and I've been a coal miner all my life.Â But I've never heard a coal operator claim he was making any money.Â To hear the operators tell it, the coal industry is the oldest, non-profit organization in the nation."
In the year ending 2007, the following major U.S. coal companies reported the following net income:
Peabody $421.3 million (NYSE: BTW)
CONSOL's net income in 2007 was $267.8 million (NYSE: CNX)
Alliance Resource $170.4 million (NYSE: ARLP)
Massey Energy $94.1 millionÂ (NYSE: MEE)
Arch CoalÂ $81.3 million (NYSE: ACI)
Murray Energy (not a public firm, no public access to net income or loss)
- Foundation Coal: $32.6 million (NYSE: FCL)