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Reps assail Labor Secretary after Utah mine owner condemns global warming legislation in morning press conference on disaster
Michael Roston
Published: Tuesday August 7, 2007

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Two members of Congress slammed Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao after the owner of a mine in Utah gave a cantankerous performance at a press conference on the fate of six miners who are trapped after an accident at the site.

"Following the Sago disaster, during which miners’ families received incorrect information from the mine operator, the Congress made it the primary responsibility of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration to provide the families and members of the news media with the most accurate possible information," said Reps. George Miller and Lynn Woolsey in a statement sent to RAW STORY.

The two California Democrats chair the House Education and Labor Committee and the Committee's Subcommittee on Workforce Protections respectively.

They went on, "The news conference held this morning at the mine did not meet this standard. U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao must ensure that additional public communications regarding the rescue activities at the Crandall Canyon Mine are conducted by MSHA in order to ensure that the families and the public receive accurate information in a timely and responsible manner."

Miller and Woolsey's statement came after an unusual press conference given by Robert Murray, head of Murray Energy Corporation, which owns the mine where the accident occurred. Murray blamed the cave-in on an earthquake, and also spent time defending the coal industry against global warming legislation.

"Without coal to manufacture our electricity, our products will not compete in the global marketplace against foreign countries...and people on fixed incomes will not be able to pay their electric bills," Murray forcefully declared in the press conference, as broadcast by CNN. "And every one of these global warming bills that has been trindouced in Congress to date eliminates the coal industry and will increase your electric rates four to five-fold."

Miller and Woolsey said that the families and the public need to receive accurate information.

"The families of the six trapped miners are deeply worried about the welfare of their loved ones," their statement added. "They need and have a right to the most credible, objective, and up-to-date information available about the status of the rescue effort. So does the public."