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Coal Mine Deaths Skyrocket Under Trump

2017 saw a huge increase in coal mining deaths thanks to Right to Work and less regulation from Trump

Brian Young's picture
Jan 05, 2018

Not only is Coal Country facing the reality that their industry is slowly dying, they are now facing an uptick in miner deaths.

Following the safest year on record in 2016, when only 8 people died in mine-related accidents, mine deaths double in 2017 to 15 deaths. West Virginia led the way with 8. According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), 7 of the deaths involved workers with less than 1 years’ experience on the job.

The increase in deaths comes after a decade-long decline. Since 2010, when 38 people were killed in the Upper Big Branch Mine, deaths have not exceeded 20 in a year. However, that might change in the coming years. West Virginia became Right to Work in 2017, reducing the power of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), who have been fighting for decades to make the industry safer. Trump, who ran on a promise to rebuild the coal industry, also chose retired coal company executive David Zatezalo to run the MSHA. As UCOMM previously reported Zatezalo has been charged with violations that have led to miners’ deaths. Trump and Zatezalo have already begun formal reviews of a number of Obama era safety standards and intend to remove some of these life-saving regulations.

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