Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What did Donald Trump do today?

He named Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor, as his choice for Secretary of Commerce.

Ross is most widely known as the owner of the International Coal Group, which operated a coal mine in Sago, WV. It was the site of a 2006 explosion that trapped 13 workers underground, 12 of whom died. Since Ross's purchase of the mine in 2004, it had come under intense scrutiny for its unusually poor safety record. Grieving families had to be physically restrained from company officials when the death toll was announced.

Ross admitted that he was aware that the mine had accumulated hundreds of citations for safety violations in the year before the fatal explosion, including 16 at the highest level of severity that regulators issued. In the aftermath of the disaster, he was criticized for the paltry size of the relief fund that his company set up for the victims' families--and the fact that Ross himself, a billionaire, had contributed nothing to it. 

Trump campaigned heavily in coal country, promising to revive the industry, which has suffered as demand moves towards cheaper and cleaner energy sources, by relaxing regulations.

What's the problem here?

  • The coal miners who supported Trump may not feel they're being helped by the appointment of a negligent mine owner to the Cabinet.