Faithlink Discussion: Coal Mining Safety

by jacobjuncker

While those who do not live in a mining community may not always think about the safety and health concerns of coal miners, most of us rely on coal miners’ work to supply at least part of our electricity.  In January 2010, coal-powered electricity plants supplied 48 percent of the nation’s electric power…”these [29] miners [who died at the Big Branch coal mine in Montcoal, West Virginia,] gave their lives gathering raw material for our energy use.  We should all care.”

God’s love for the twenty-nine miners who died in the Upper Big Branch accident last month calls us to respond with compassion and justice.

from Faithlink: Connecting Faith and Life, volume 16, number 4, May 23, 2010 (Nashville: Cokesbury, 2010)

Root cause is an important thing to think about.  One could easily argue that the reason the 29 coal miners died at Big Branch due to a methane buildup, but could it be that our collective greed caused these men to die?  Could it be that our lust for cheap energy and resources is a root cause?

While in Boston, I heard a lot about the “Cape Winds Project.”  For years, a number of wealthy families who own property on Cape Cod (including the Kennedys) have been using their political clout to block the erection of an off-shore wind farm which would “ruin” their view of the ocean by creating tiny specks on the horizon where the farm would be set up.  For a laugh, a clip from the Daily Show with John Stewart on the Cape Winds Project, go here.

I use electricity just as much as the next person, but I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if we relied less on coal and oil.  I wonder what it would be like if we used the power of the earth and sun to power our homes.  We use it some, but what if it became our primary source of power?

As I think about this mining accident and those who died, I can’t help but feel like this is more than just Massey Energy’s problem.  It is our problem.  I think I’ll start being a little more careful in how I use electricity.

O God, we know that you are always working for good in your world.  We mourn the lives lost–now and in the past–of workers in the mines.  We ask that you give our nation the steadfastness of purpose it will take to protect the lives of miners.  Give us your discernment about how to use your earth’s resources wisely to provide for the needs of all.  Help us never to forget or take for granted the work that others do on our behalf.  Amen.

from Faithlink: Connecting Faith and Life, volume 16, number 4, May 23, 2010 (Nashville: Cokesbury, 2010)