Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Another fun feature of the Bush administration: relaxed enforcement of mine safety standards

The New York "bury the lead" Times:

Federal inspectors fined the Sago mine more than $24,000 for roughly 202 violations in 2005, according to federal records.

The total monetary figure is likely to rise substantially because the federal mine-safety agency has yet to put a dollar figure on some citations.

The most serious of these citations are 16 "unwarrantable failure orders," which are problems that an operator knows exist but fails to correct.

Thirteen of these orders were issued in the past six months, federal records show.

"Under the Bush administration, the citing of unwarrantable failures has gone down dramatically," said Tony Oppegard, a top federal mine official in the Clinton administration and a former prosecutor of mine-safety violations in Kentucky. "So to see a rash of unwarrantable failures under this administration is a telling sign of a mine with serious safety problems."

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