President Obama will speak about the Montcoal mine explosion at 1:20 this afternoon after a week of increasing scrutiny into the mine’s safety record and the negligence of Massey CEO Don Blankenship. Yesterday he requested a initial assessment from the Department of Labor into what went wrong.
The President will meet next week with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Mine Safety and Health Administrator Joe Main. He expects them to report on their early assessment of the deadly explosion’s cause, the safety record at the Upper Branch mine, and the steps that the Federal government should take to improve safety enforcement and prevent future tragedies. The Secretary and MSHA Administrator will address safety issues as well as enforcement and legal authorities in their briefing.
It will be important to make sure the focus of the investigation not only strengthen the laws and enforcement capacity of DOL and MSHA, but to also look into any criminal nature of Massey and its leadership. This is not an excuse for Obama to just look forward and not let the past be behind again.