Craig Dear Mr. Raehal:
The political cartoon penned by Monte Wolverton that you chose to run Monday, Aug. 20, 2007, titled "Long History of Unsafe Mining Practices," was not only unprofessional considering where we live and the fact that Coal Mining is one of, if not the major source of income for Craig and the surrounding area, the cartoon also was insensitive.
The publication of this cartoon is, in my opinion, the same as making jokes about the World Trade Center after the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.
The families of the six missing and now presumed to be dead miners at the Crandall Canyon Mine in Huntington, Utah, have yet to recover their loved ones, and it is likely these miners may not be found, according to Rob Moore, VP of Murray Energy, co-owner of the Crandall Canyon Mine.
I have worked at Trapper Mine for 26 years, I can honestly tell you that the safety of the workers is more important than production. The Federal Mine Safety Act of 1977 set forth safety standards for coal mines.
Coal mining has experienced an ever increasing record of improved safety. In fact, U.S. coal mine production has increased by more than 83 percent since 1970, while workplace injuries have declined by 92 percent, and workplace fatalities have decreased by 67 percent.
According to the President of the Colorado Mining Association, Stuart Sanderson, coal mines in Colorado, particularly underground mines, have an accident rate that is well below the national average. The national average for underground coal mines is 8.42 accidents per 200,000 man hours worked. The average in Colorado is 5.90; thus, Colorado's incidence rate is 30 percent below the national average. When you look at specific jobs, you are safer working at a coal mine (28 deaths/100,000 workers) in the U.S. than in the retail industry (372 deaths/100,000 workers).
Locally, the mines in the Yampa Valley have excellent safety records with Trapper Mine and the Colowyo Mine being past winners of mining's highest safety honor, MSHA's Sentinels of Safety Award, not to mention the safety and production records set by Peabody Energy's Twenty Mile Mine.
The profit margin for coal mines is very similar to that of any other business, and profits are not made on the backs of miners that are forced to work in unsafe conditions. I feel lucky and proud to work at Trapper, and the fact that I was immersed through my work in a culture of safety has only benefited my life.
The aforementioned cartoon is an insult to myself and other miners and casts a long dark shadow on the career I have chosen, not to mention serves as an insult to the people of this valley.
In the future, Mr. Raehal, you should be more careful of the content and timing of the articles and cartoons in your newspaper.