Mine Official Urges Passage Of Safety Bill

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For the second time in four years, Congress is considering tougher mine safety laws after 29 men were killed this spring in a massive explosion in West Virginia. Mine Safety and Health Administration director Joe Main told lawmakers the bill would bring "a culture of safety" to the industry.


Here in the U.S., Congress is considering tougher mine safety laws after 29 men were killed this spring in a massive explosion in West Virginia.

NPR's Frank Langfitt reports on the prospects.

FRANK LANGFITT: Joe Main, the government's head of Mine Safety, told a House hearing yesterday that proposed legislation would make it easier for the government to shut down dangerous mines and better protect whistleblowers.

JOE MAIN: Many miners won't speak up about safety problems for fear of losing their jobs. We are resolved to changing that culture of fear.

LANGFITT: George Miller, a California Democrat who oversees the House Education and Labor Committee, summed up the view of many.

GEORGE MILLER: The fact of the matter is the current law isn't working.

LANGFITT: But Congressman John Kline, a Republican from Minnesota, cautioned against making new laws before several investigations determine what caused the explosion last April at a Massey Energy mine.

JOHN KLINE: Instead of rushing to legislate without all the facts, I hope we listen to the experts - along with the eventual findings of the investigations I just mentioned - to enact a bill with a clear focus on making mines safer.

Democrats hope to pass a new mine safety bill by the end of the year.

Frank Langfitt, NPR News, Washington.

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