Sen. Chris Girdler, R-Somerset sponsored legislation to roll back Kentucky’s mine safety laws and eliminate state mine inspections. He had the unmitigated gall to introduce this abominable legislation on the 40th anniversary of the Scotia mine explosion in Letcher County that killed 26 people. Girdler claims that the inspections aren’t needed and that anybody who disagrees with him is “fear-mongering and spreading hateful rhetoric.” This from a man who claims that government is behind the 30-year decline in coal-mining jobs when all the evidence points to fluctuations in the free market that Girdler otherwise claims to worship.
He refers to overly burdensome regulations hindering “operation of the free market.” What you get when you allow the market free rein are people like Don Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Energy who was featured on 60 Minutes on March 6. Twenty-nine people were killed in the Upper Big Branch mine because Blankenship placed dollars ahead of worker safety. When you allow this industry to police itself, workers are expendable.
And this is exactly what Girdler, Gov Matt Bevin and Energy and Environmental Secretary Charles Snavely propose with this legislation. These men are in the coal industry’s pocket. Miner safety is an afterthought.