27 January 2006
David Dye, the acting director of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), walked out halfway through a two-hour Senate hearing Monday on the Sago Mine disaster, refusing to answer questions about his agency’s failure to enforce safety regulations that might have saved 14 West Virginia miners who were killed in two separate accidents this month.
Dye rejected a direct request of US Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee that oversees the mine safety agency, to stay for the full hearing and respond to issues that might arise from the testimony of other witnesses.
Dye claimed the hearing had “diverted” him and other MSHA officials from more pressing matters, including a mine fire in Colorado, which, he conveniently did not mention, had been burning since November.
The actions by the Bush appointee underscore the utter contempt the White House has for the welfare and safety of the coal miners.
If this is how the head of the agency charged with protecting miners’ lives responds to US senators, it is obvious what kind of treatment miners receive when they risk victimization and ask MSHA officials to investigate deadly conditions in the coal mines.
Dye’s walkout also highlights the well-known fact that the White House considers itself unaccountable to the US Congress or anyone else, aside from corporate America.
The same arrogance and obstruction has been shown in regard to the investigation of the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina and the incompetence and negligence of its political cronies at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Dye announced his departure after Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, asked him whether MSHA and the coal industry have become too close under the Bush administration.
See for an update here.
Mine (un)safety in Australia: here.