In August of 2007 Utah suffered a terrible disaster, the collapse of the Crandall Canyon Mine in Emery County. Six miners were trapped inside the mine. There was a search that went on for over a month to recover the miners. Attempting to rescue those six, three rescuers were killed, a tragedy for the families of the miners and rescue workers, for the employees of Crandall Canyon Mine, for the close knit community around the mine and for the whole state. It was and is a terrible thing. Mining is a dangerous job.
However, the reaction of many in the community and the state bothers me a lot. The reaction is something like, "Coal mining is too dangerous. These mine owners are horrible jerks who exploit their workers. Mining is not an industry that we should have in this country."
The United States is a country rich in coal. It should be considered a blessing. It should be a resource we use to make us less dependent on foreign energy. Miners should be thought of like other public servants. The work they do is heroic and it keeps this country moving. Miners contribute to the wealth and richness that all of us enjoy. And, if environmentalists and government would scooch out of the way a bit, just a bit.. miners could contribute a lot more.
We have too great a habit in this country of tying our own hands. Yes. Make it as safe as possible. Yes. Make clean coal burning a must. Yes. Make mine owners put the land back the way they found it as much as possible... but don't take one of our greatest resources as a nation off the table as an option.. There are people who think that our coal resources could make us energy independent from the Middle East.
And since a lot of the oil money in the Middle East.. which could educate whole nations and provide hope, health and happiness for millions is instead funding terrorism, upholding selfish monarchies, and oppressing millions ... maybe we should stop paying those people so they can turn around and hate us with it.
And, as far as safety goes. I think there are miners in this country who may wonder rightly how safe my job is.. sitting on my behind all day or of many other Americans whose jobs keep them tied to a desk and a computer screen.. whose only exercise is to get up for a candy bar from the vending machine and whose behinds spread across the chair and then cascade over the sides after a while. Statistically, that kind of job is highly dangerous. And then, there are those Americans who commute in cars on the freeways. Many of those Americans die everyday, their professions un-protested. I used to have a job where I spent a lot of time in a kitchen with raw meat, wet floors, sharp knives.. you get the idea.
Mining is important. It is heroic. I've made a little bit of fun here, but the truth is that the greatness of our nation is built on the backs of all of the everyday people who have the courage to get out of bed everyday and make a contribution through their labor. Miners in this country provide a great service to our country and all our lives. If we would get our government out of their way just a little, there is no telling what they could accomplish for the greater good of this nation, this economy and even possibly the peace of the planet... no kidding at all.