U.S. coal industry lobbyists have "resumed a longstanding effort to eliminate -- or at least greatly weaken" the federal requirement for four full inspections a year at underground coal mines. Already this year, 21 coal miners have died, including 16 at West Virginia's Sago Mine. Twenty-two miners died in all of 2005. "A decade ago, industry lobbyists and conservative activists" tried to eliminate the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The failed 1995 effort was "backed by the Heritage Foundation." Proposals to reduce mine inspections were floated in 1998 and 2000. Today, "longtime coal industry official" Dave Lauriski heads MSHA. John Correll, who previously testified for reduced inspections on behalf of the National Mining Association, holds a top MSHA post. MSHA now says it will "address this issue through nonregulatory means," which reporter Ken Ward notes "would eliminate public review and public comment" from the process.
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