WASHINGTON – History has shown that coal mining regulations are usually made as a result of tragedy,according to Paul Rakes,a former coal miner and professor at the West Virginia University Institute of Technology. He gave these examples:
* 1907: The Monongah,W.Va.,mine explosion killed 362 men and boys and is regarded as the worst mining disaster in U.S. history. The Federal Bureau of Mines was created in 1910 as a result,but it had little enforcement power.
* 1940s: A series of explosions across the U.S. prompted the bureau to publish safety codes and suggestions,but the bureau still had little authority.
* 1952: A Federal Coal Mine Safety Act was adopted after another series of explosions, giving the bureau the authority to issue violation notices but not to enforce them.
* 1968: The Farmington,W.Va.,mine disaster killed 78 workers. It was the first mining disaster the American public watched on television. It prompted the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969,the first enforceable industry regulations.
* 2006: Within the first two months of the year,19 coal miners died in West Virginia,Kentucky and Utah,prompting state lawmakers to pass a mine safety bill enforcing regulations and requiring the latest safety technology.