I continued to believe that coal is important to Kentucky, and not just for the jobs it provides and the low power rates for your home and mine. I believe it can be made clean and this is important to America's future---even tho I don't see much actual work to make it cleaner by the industry that touts "clean coal" while at the same time fighting EPA anti-pollution and clean stream rules.
What bothers me much more is the way coal gets away with not paying fines, when it admits safety violations that maim and kill--and the failure of Congress and our General Assembly from doing much about this.
The latest, egregious case(s), one more in a long, long series of nose-thumbing by coal operators, was reported this week by the Courier-Journal.
Even tho Kentucky Darby's #1 mine in Harlan County was found guilty of safety violations that KILLED 5 miners, and even tho it admitted liability for UNPAID fines and interest on those violations, the US has yet to collect nearly $700,000 from the explosion which happened nearly SIX years ago.
Worse, a former top official of the Darby Mine is mining coal at 2 other Harlan mines which have wracked up another $637,000 in UNPAID fines for nearly FOUR HUNDRED safety violations.
(Total fines not yet paid by the coal industry over the past ten years, according to the C-J, amount to $23.8 MILLION. And the industry is famous for not paying, going out of business, then setting up new mines with new names, but the same old management that was responsibilty for the safety violations and fines in the first place.)
Federal agencies have said they prefer to get the fines thru civil action in the courts--at additional cost to you and me. Others, myself included, prefer a proposed law allowing the US to shut down mines that don't pay after a certain time. (That'll get their attention!) No pay, no mining.
But the C-J reports it's stalled in, guess where?---Congress.
I hope the Kentucky delegation will support this law..they won't be "anti-coal" if they do..tho they will be called that. They will be "pro-safety" and "pro-the rule of law." And even "pro-widows and orphans." The five dead miners in the Darby blast had both.
But Kentucky should follow suit. Various mine operators owe the state fines and interest for unpaid safety violations, too. Kentucky should have a law allowing it to close such mines until fines are paid.
Safety, the rule of law, and common sense all support such a rule.
And it isn't "anti-coal" to be for it.
I'm just sayin'....