Well, they’ve got balls, you gotta give them that: Coal industry flacks, in response to safety fears raised by the Sago mine accident (among others), say that hey, maybe we’d all be safer if we just blew off the tops of the mountains instead of sending people in.

“Technology has driven the fact that we can produce more coal with less workers, so there’s fewer people exposed to hazards,” said Joe Lucas, executive director of industry group Americans for Balanced Energy Choices.

The mind boggles.

In other mine safety/brass balls news, on Monday David Dye, the acting head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, was testifying before a Senate subcommittee about the administration’s response to Sago. After an hour of questioning, he declared that he was busy and walked out. Seriously — just walked out.

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Senator Specter responded with frustration: “I can understand your pressing other business. It may well be that some of the senators here have pressing matters, too. We don’t think we are imposing too much to keep you here for another hour.”

After Mr. Specter added, “That’s the committee’s request, but you’re not under subpoena,” Mr. Dye got up and walked out.

“I can’t recollect it ever happening before,” Mr. Specter said of the departure. “We’ll find a way to take appropriate note of it.”

Think Progress has the video.

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