I know I shouldn't, but my inclination is to sympathize with Robert Murray, the beleaguered and outspokenly defiant owner of the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah that collapsed in early August, claiming the lives of six miners and, later, three would-be rescuers. I'm finding it difficult, however. After all, the New York Times
pretty much calls Murray out as a bald-faced liar today. (See: "Mine Owner Has History of Run-Ins on Work Issues
") Yet, while the story makes it clear that Mr. Murray is responsible for putting miners at unusual risk, his plans were approved by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which has oversight of the industry and, therefore, ultimate responsibility. There's your Coal Rush for you.
Still, if American mining has become more dangerous with the times, it's nothing next to what is happening in China. As the Washington Post
reports, 47 coal miners died on the job in the US in 2006. In China the number was more than 4,700
-- greater by two full orders of magnitude, but still down from the particularly bloody year of 2002, when nearly 7,000 Chinese miners met their ends in accidents. In fact, fatality statistics for Chinese coal mines over the last seven years shows that 2006 was the least deadly, by far. Forget what I said earlier. There
is your Coal Rush.