I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

Melting Arctic ice.......beautiful and frightening!

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

How Much Are Your Loved Ones Worth?

Dead, that is.  Would you trade three million dollars US for them?  Would your life be better?   Would you be happier with the money than with their presence at your dinner table?   Irritating as my family members can be, I wouldn't trade their lives for money.  (If you're reading this, I love you all very much  - OK?)

But that is what Massey Energy is offering the families of the miners killed underground at their mine.  They have 3 million bucks for each family of a miner killed underground.  Or in other words, they have plenty of money to settle lawsuits and none at all to ensure safety in their mines. Bastards .....

The explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia is the worst mining disaster in 40 years with more loss of life than any mining accident since the 1970s. Mine safety investigators are still searching for an exact cause, though the methane explosion, largely preventable by proper ventilation, is being looked at closely. They're also reviewing the safety record at the Upper Big Branch mine, which amassed more than 1,100 violations in the past three years, many of them serious, 50 of them in March of 2010, including violations for improper ventilation of methane and poor escape routes[3]. Federal regulators had ordered parts of the mine closed 60 times over the past year. Questions about Massey Energy's mining safety practices, along with questions about CEO Don Blankenship's excessive spending on court appointment campaigns, are coming from the public, the Dept of Labor, and President Obama. An aggressive proponent of mountaintop removal mining (stripmining or surface mining), Massey Energy's record on safety and following environmental protocols were also called into question when in October of 2000 a containment area for the liquid by-product failed at a Massey impoundment in eastern Kentucky, releasing a 300-million gallon spill of toxic sludge, making the Martin County spill the the worst environmental disaster in the United States east of the Mississippi.
Burning the mining coal is a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions as well.  So, Massey Energy flouts safety regulations, creates environemental disasters, helps heat the planet, and  is careless with  its workers' lives. 

What will it take to get rid of the clout possessed by fossil fuel extractors?  How many oil spills and mining disasters do we have to see before we demand that governments make these industries pay for their "external costs?" How hot does the planet have to get?   Why aren't we, the general public, rioting in the streets?  Or at least working to pass laws against ecocide?

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