This one wasn't in the U.S. but it was much more devastating than anything I've heard before when it comes to coal mine accidents. A methane explosion killed 106 people in a Siberian coal mine and they are currently trying to rescue 4 trapped miners who at 885 feet down.
Do we really need to keep digging this crap out of the earth? I haven't heard of any windfarm engineers or solar panel installers dying from work-related accidents. This mine was relatively new, had a brand new safety system installed was supposed to be a modern marvel for the Russian government.
China just recently closed down 4,000 coal mines because of the threat of accidents like the one in Siberia.
How has the U.S. treated mine safety? The Bush administration ignored warnings from "whistleblowers" about the lack of consistency around safety checks and went a step further by refusing to collect penalties on mines and companies that were not up to snuff. Ken Ward Jr., a reporter for the West Virginia Gazette had a great write-up of administration coal mine policy in the Washington Monthly early on in 2006.
Obviously, if you stop handing out fines for unsafe mining practices, those practices will continue unchecked. But the bigger question that isn't being asked is, do we really need to keep mining the earth for a dirty energy that happens to kill some of our hardest working men and women? There are other ways of obtaining energy for our society and what is so amazing to me is how tightly our world's traditionalists are holding on to a practice that dates back to the middle ages -- burning coal for energy. Its high-time we start actually implementing our knowledge and have a little faith that solar and wind power can meet our energy needs today.