Obama, Biden Will Attend W. VA Miners’ Memorial On April 25
President Obama and Vice President Biden will attend a memorial service for 29 miners killed in a mine explosion earlier this month in West Virginia. Virginia Governor Joe Manchin and First Lady Gayle Manchin will host the memorial service in honor of the miners on April 25 in which President Obama will deliver the eulogy.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement that President Obama "will deliver a eulogy honoring the lives of those who perished and offering his deepest condolences to the loved ones they left behind."
The memorial service in Beckley will be the latest event where the president acts as the nation’s chief mourner in a moment of catastrophe. He likewise spoke at a service last November honoring 13 active and retired soldiers killed at Fort Hood in Texas by an Army psychiatrist who had been communicating with a radical Islamic cleric in Yemen.
Obama Vows To Hold US Mining Companies Accountable For Safety Violations
The president directed Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to work closely with Congress to strengthen existing laws and to work with the Justice Department "to ensure that every tool in the federal government is available in this investigation."
"Owners responsible for conditions in the Upper Big Branch mine should be held accountable for decisions they made and preventive measures they failed to take," Obama said.
President Obama also called on an administrator with the Mine Safety and Health Administration, Kevin Stricklin, to work closely with state mining officials on the investigation.
President Places Blame On Management and Laws
Speaking about mine safety from the White House Rose Garden:
[T]he president blamed the deadly disaster on “a failure first and foremost of management but also a failure of oversight and a failure of laws so riddled with loopholes that they allow unsafe conditions to continue.”
In response to reports of safety violations at Upper Big Branch, Mr. Obama ordered a new review of mine safety. The company that operates the mine, Massey Energy Company, responded that the president had been “misinformed about our record and the mining industry in general” and said that some “are rushing to judgment for political gain or to avoid blame.”
Inspections have also been ordered by Governor Manchin, who last Wednesday ordered state safety officials to inspect all underground mines in Virginia.
Manchin also asked for the state's more than 200 underground coal mines to cease production Friday to mourn the victims of the nation's worst coal mining disaster in 40 years.
"I don't know any better way to honor the miners we've lost and the families who are grieving so much," Manchin said. The economic cost of such a shut down would "take care of itself," the governor said.
The memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, April 25 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center, 200 Armory Drive, Beckley, W. Virginia.