FRANKFORT — U.S. Senate candidates Rand Paul and Jack Conway have been courting voters in Kentucky's coal mining region in their general election campaigns. The Associated Press asked the candidates what they would do as senator to better ensure the safety of coal miners. Here are their answers:
Democrat Jack Conway: "As Kentucky's next Senator, I will always stand up to protect Kentucky workers, especially our coal miners. I am especially proud that the United Mine Workers knowing my strong commitment to fight for miners are supporting my campaign.
"While mine safety has improved over the years, mining accidents have claimed five lives in Kentucky this year alone, five too many. Rand Paul has callously said, in regard to tragedies like this, that 'sometimes accidents happen,' and he advocates eliminating mine safety regulations as well as other workplace safety regulations. Too many lives have been lost for us to allow Rand Paul to erase safety rules. We must continue to be vigilant by enforcing strong safety rules, implementing new technology, and requiring safety training.
"Preventing accidents is the best way to keep our miners safe. That's why Congress must continue to strongly enforce safety and protection measures in our mines to help reduce the number of collapses. In the Senate, I will fight for federal legislation to allow Kentuckians to continue to work in our mines, and do so safely."
Republican Rand Paul: "America needs a secure and stable source of energy and Kentucky needs jobs. Our coal mining industry provides both, and is vital to the lives of Kentuckians from one end of the commonwealth to the other. Coal mining, like many other human endeavors, has risks, and mine operators, miners, and safety officials must try to minimize those risks by learning from past failures and using new technologies.
"I will make sure mine accidents are thoroughly investigated and the right lessons are learned from what went wrong. I will focus mine safety efforts on correcting problems and that starts with enforcing existing rules, which may require putting more inspectors on the job first. Because the land in our state varies from one region to the next, the ways to mine coal must vary as well, and mine operators, miners, and safety officials in Kentucky should be in the best position to know what safety measures will work best in Kentucky's mines.
"I support enabling safety officials in Kentucky to set standards that work for Kentucky. And I oppose the proposed national energy tax and efforts by the EPA to enact greenhouse gas regulations that will drive up costs and dry up funds that mine operators would be able to use for safety measures. I will not waver from my position on the national energy tax and EPA greenhouse gas regulation, and have never held any other position on those issues."