By Peter Galuszka
Coal mining continues to be a flash point in the presidential campaign as Mitt Romney accuses Barack Obama of proposing onerous regulations designed to kill Appalachian coal jobs.
In the two years I spent researching my new book, “Thunder on the Mountain: Death at Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal, (St. Martin’s Press),” I came to opposite conclusions — that the industry is not regulated enough or effectively.
This is a primary reason why 29 miners died at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine in 2010, the worst such mine disaster in 40 years. I also found that the future for coal globally is quite bright, especially when the unique problems of mining coal Appalachian-style are considered. As one British coal executive told me, the ruinous mountaintop removal mining methods increasingly common in Central Appalachia, including Southwest Virginia, aren’t really deployed in the rest of the world’s coal fields.
For more perspective, view the interview I did with Progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann on “The Big Picture,” which plays in cable TV markets nationally. My segment lasted nearly half and hour and was taped on Oct. 5. The first segment appears above. You can reach the second segment here.