HUFFINGTON POST
09/04/2007 02:31 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Utah Mine Owner Will Skip Congressional Hearing

The owner of the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah where six workers were trapped by a cave-in a month ago will not be appearing at a Senate hearing on mine safety Wednesday in Washington.

A witness list released Tuesday by Sen. Robert Byrd's (D-W.Va.) office said mine owner Robert E. Murray would not attend the hearing. Byrd, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, had earlier invited the mine owner to appear to discuss "The Utah Mine Disaster and Preventing Future Tragedies."

In a statement e-mailed to The Huffington Post, Murray Energy spokesman Rob Moore said "Mr. Murray cannot give the situation in Utah the proper attention it needs if he travels to Washington to testify."

Federal mine safety chief Richard Stickler, National Mining Association Vice President Bruce Watzman, United Mineworkers of America President Cecil Roberts, and Clinton Administration mine safety chief J. Davitt McAteer have all said they will appear at the hearing Wednesday.

Lawmakers have launched several probes into the tragedy at Crandall Canyon. Wednesday's hearing will be the first time experts on mine safety will be questioned on Capitol Hill since the initial collapse at Crandall Canyon on Aug. 6.

Six coal miners at Crandall Canyon were trapped underground when a section of the mine they were working in collapsed. Three rescue workers were killed in a subsequent cave-in while working to free the trapped miners.

On Aug. 31, 25 days after the initial collapse, mine safety officials halted their rescue efforts, saying they had no options left.

--Max Follmer is a Staff Writer at The Huffington Post. He can be reached at max@huffingtonpost.com