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Senate Plans Hearing on Mine Collapse

Senate Plans Hearing on Mine Collapse

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Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio & Associated PressMassachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy announced plans to hold the first oversight hearing about the mine collapse when Congress returns from its summer break Sept. 5.

Among those the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees labor issues hopes to hear from are mine co-owner Bob Murray and Mine Safety and Health Administration chief Richard Stickler.

Kennedy, D-Mass., chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, also demanded a list of documents Thursday from the Labor Department about the Crandall Canyon Mine and its operators.

The documents Kennedy requested include several petitions Murray made to MSHA for changes in his mining plans at Crandall Canyon. Experts have said those changes were risky and could have led to the collapse that trapped six miners.

Company officials did not immediately respond to e-mailed requests for comment.

The Utah Mining Association agrees there should be an investigation into what exactly happened in the Crandall Canyon Mine.

Chairman Gerald Van Campen says lawmakers could learn how to make mines safer. He says, "Any regulation that improve miner's safety is helpful."

But, CONSOL Energy CEO J. Brett Harvey says lawmakers may have passed some ill-conceived regulations simply because they felt compelled to do something. Harvey says,"How do we make sure the mine plans are right? How do we step up all of our resources to see that we're at zero accidents?"

Harvey says Congress should not pressure MSHA to write more violations after this investigation.

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