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West Virginia Mine Disaster: One Year Later, Safety Overhaul Stalled

NEW YORK — A year after the worst coal mining accident in decades took the lives of 29 workers, prompting urgent calls to revamp oversight of one of the country’s most dangerous jobs, not much has changed in the lives of those who toil deep…

NEW YORK — A year after the worst coal mining accident in decades took the lives of 29 workers, prompting urgent calls to revamp oversight of one of the country’s most dangerous jobs, not much has changed in the lives of those who toil deep underground.

Soon after the disaster on April 5, 2010, lawmakers in Congress and West Virginia vowed to overhaul mine safety laws and investigators promised to swiftly find the cause of the explosion that roared through the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia the day after Easter.

Despite the widespread media coverage and passionate speeches, a bill that would have made it easier to shut down problem mines and increased penalties for serious safety violations was quietly defeated in early December. As The Huffington Post reported that month, the legislation died due to a combination of inattention, intensive lobbying efforts by a powerful industry and mine workers’ lack of political clout.

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