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A couple of weekend notes:
The word came in late Friday night that the bodies of the four missing miners in Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine were found by rescue teams. None of the miners had reached a rescue chamber and none had donned their emergency breathing devices, indicating that the four men had died in the initial blast. The reporters at the Charleston Gazette have continued to have the best coverage of this tragedy. The gateway to learning about the disaster is Ken Ward Jr.’s blog, here. Ward reported yesterday that federal authorities twice last year launched special investigations into the mine’s safety record. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration did not say how those investigations were resolved. Ward also reported that the mine has had particular trouble with ventilating the mine and that federal inspectors had been citing the company for violating regulations. A failure to property ventilate the mine is a likely cause of the methane gas explosion.
Meanwhile, a record 10,010 megawatts of new wind capacity was installed in the U.S. last year. (Thirty-nine percent of the nation’s total wind capacity was installed last year.) Texas remains the leader in wind energy production. Iowa is number 2. Iowa currently generates 14.2% of its electricity from wind farms.
At the same time, the International Energy Agency has released a report showing that nuclear power is the least expensive power source. Wind energy was often the most expensive.