By MARC McDONALD
The trapping of six miners in a Utah coal mine collapse is the latest coal industry disaster to occur since George W. Bush took office. Since 2000, Bush has cut funding for mine safety enforcement by $15 million and stacked the Mine Safety and Health Administration with representatives of corporate interests.
Coal mining deaths have increased sharply in the past few years. 2006 was the deadliest year in a decade for coal miners.
As the AFL-CIO notes, 47 coal miners were killed on the job last year, a 210 percent increase over 2005, when 22 coal miners died on the job. 2006 was marked by several major disasters, including a Jan. 2 explosion that killed 12 coal miners in Sago Mine in West Virginia.
Although times are perilous for coal miners, it's a different story for America's coal companies. For example, 2005 was a record year for revenue and profits for St. Louis–based Peabody Energy Corp., the world's largest private-sector coal producer. In 2005, Peabody recorded revenues of $4.64 billion, up about 28 percent from 2004.
As WSWS.org points out, the "Bush administration has stacked (the Mine Safety and Health Administration) with former coal managers who have unashamedly tailored the agency’s policies to meet the profit needs of the operators."