Today, Glenn Beck hosted Bob Murray -- a coal executive who Beck lauded for “defend[ing] workers” -- to explain what would happen if U.S. coal plants were to shut down. During the segment, Murray attacked President Obama's energy policies, blaming them for sending jobs overseas and denying American workers their “honor and dignity.” But one should perhaps be wary of Murray's opinions on energy policy, because contrary to Beck's characterization, he has a history of safety violations. Indeed, the government issued the largest fine in history for coal mine safety violations at the time stemming from an accident at Murray's Utah mine.
During the administration of President George W. Bush, the Mine Safety and Health Administration levied its largest fine for coal mine safety violations at the time, $1.85 million, for a collapse that killed six Utah miners at a mine owned by Murray. MSHA fined Genwal Resources, the operator of Crandall Canyon mine, $1.34 million “for violations that directly contributed to the deaths of six miners last year” and roughly another $300,000 for other violations. Agapito Associates, a mining consultant, was fined $220,000 “for faulty analysis of the mine's design.”
In the days following the collapse, Murray denied that his company practiced “retreat mining” at Crandall Canyon -- a risky technique -- but later admitted the practice had been used, though not at the time of the collapse.
But the Crandall Canyon disaster is just the tip of the iceberg of Murray's safety record.
Murray's mining operations have racked up thousands of safety citations over the years and several have had accident rates above the national average. A CNN investigation following the disaster found that at an Illinois mine owned by Murray “the rate of injuries has exceeded the national average every year since Murray bought the mine in 1998” and had “also racked up over 3,400 citations in the last 2 1/2 years, 968 so far this year, with nearly a quarter considered significant and substantial.” While Murray challenged many of the citations, he had paid roughly $700,000 in fines from 2005 to 2006 for that mine.
Investigative Reporting Workshop, a project of the American University School of Communication, reported that Murray was fined $18,192,186 and acquired 7,747 “significant” violations from 2000 to 2009. During this period, the Investigative Reporting Workshop said his mining operations were responsible for 10 deaths.
But who cares about whether Murray has a worrisome safety record? Murray launched into an unhinged attack on Obama that led Beck to opine that Obama is “trying to cripple business and the country.”
That's what really matters.
Watch the segment: