May 8th, 2011
Econintersect: An article by Kim Geiger, Tom Hamburger and Doug Smith in the Los Angeles Times discusses a number of specific mine safety violation stories that continue following the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, even after President Obama indicated at the memorial service for the 29 miners killed that we should not let that tragedy be repeated. Apparently there has been a bipartisan decision not to work toward that end.
Legislation that would have forced mines with outstanding uncorrected safety violations to close and would have provided protection for safety hazards whistle blowers was defeated in Congress last year. And data indicates that money spent by the mining industry in Congress may have been a deciding factor. Follow up:
From the LA Times:
Industry lobbying against the bill was intense. The National Mining Association alone reported spending $3.2 million on lobbying last year, a portion of it to oppose Miller's bill. That effort was joined by hundreds of other companies and trade associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Overall, the mining industry made $6.4 million in political donations in the 2010 cycle, according to data provided by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which developed a detailed history of mining industry lobbying and campaign expenditures in collaboration with the Los Angeles Times.
The industry coalition targeted vulnerable moderate Democrats in swing districts, warning them that the legislation could cost jobs.
Graphics from Khang Nguyen, Los Angeles Times give the numbers associated with the votes to defeat the proposed mine safety legislation.
It appears that the mining industry accelerated political money action significantly until the proposed legislation was defeated.
There is an old saying: "Money talks." In this case the "talking" certainly favored the mining industry over the miners. While proving cause and effect is more difficult, there certainly is no problem showing the correlation: Congressmen getting money from the industry tend to vote for the industry by a wide margin.