Yesterday I read in one of the local newspapers that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has ordered coal mine operators to submit a plan within 30 days to allow the miners at least 48 hours of clean air (Oxygen) with a contingency plan to have more if needed to rescue the miners if they are trapped and can't walk or crawl out of the mines. This order grew out of the new Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act which became law in June according to this news report.
This proposal talks about 96 hours of air in a shelter, or drilled holes from the surface, or 48 hours with a contingency plan to supply additional air if needed. This is what I've been asking for since the Sago Mine accident in West Virginia. I have written more than 300 letters to legislators in both the state and federal government, the Kentucky and West Virginia Governors and to the news media since the Sago Mine accident asking for this extra air so miners can breathe if trapped in the mines. This plan will save many lives in the future if it is actually implemented. It looks good on paper, but let's wait and see if it becomes a reality that actually gives our coal miners clean air to breathe if they are trapped in the working section of the mines and can't walk or crawl out.
Our coal miners work at a risky job first of all to provide for their families. But let’s not forget that the coal they mine provides electricity for our homes, schools, hospitals and nursing homes. Without coal many of us would freeze in the winter. Our surgeons couldn't operate without that electricity. A small child with a heart defect could not receive the heart surgery he/she needs without our coal miners supplying electricity. Most of our new technology could not be possible without coal miners producing electricity. The cardiologist could not do a heart catheterization to diagnose serious complications, nor could he/she place a stint in the coronary artery without the electricity to operate the technology that's needed to see exactly where to place the stint. Our coal miners are the ones that provide the coal to make the electricity required to operate this technology. I could not write this letter without coal. Our coal miners help provide the electricity to make weapons, tanks, ships, and aircraft to protect our country and our freedoms. Coal miners provide electricity to our schools and universities to educate our children, doctors, nurses, attorneys, administrators, architects, artist, teachers, welders, mechanics, factory workers and all the rest.
As human beings if we can't help to provide them with clean air to breathe if they are trapped in the mines then it deeply saddens me to say we have become something other than human beings.
I look forward to the day when this plan is actually implemented, and our miners actually have this air to breathe if trapped. Then I can write a letter to our legislatures in the U.S. Congress and thank them for passing this law if in fact they voted for it.
Miners I've talked to with in the past week tell me they have two and one half hours of air to breathe if trapped without clean air and then they die.
Thank you for considering this for publication in your newspaper.