The investigation of the tragedy at the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah should be thorough and non-political, and lawmakers must resist the temptation to enact quick-fix legislation before that investigation is complete.

We must determine how this accident could have been avoided, and how the rescue efforts could have been better managed.  We can honor those whose lives have been lost by acting to ensure that the tragedy will not be repeated.

However, no tragedy should become an opportunity for political posturing.  Not every accident will require legislative action, so we must wait until all the facts are in before we determine what course to take.

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A tragedy like Crandall Canyon has a profound impact on the loved ones of those whose lives have been lost.  My wife and I send our prayers and sympathies out to all of them, especially the families at today’s hearing.

There is an understandable, but not always productive, tendency among those involved in regulating the mining industry to react to the last accident with significant fatalities prematurely, rather than taking a wider view of best practices and learning from every accident, fatal or not.  One of the goals of the MINER Act (Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act), the bipartisan legislation passed last year, was to break that cycle.

The MINER Act stands for individual, mine-based accident prevention instead of a one size fits all approach.  With that law, we required that every mine become as best prepared as possible for an accident.  We raised the standards for rescue teams, breathable air, communications technology and seals, among other things, and sought to turn the power of American inventiveness toward creating improved mine communication and rescue technology.

The MINER Act has been in place only 16 months, and some of its provisions have not yet become effective.  We must allow experts to investigate the Crandall Canyon tragedy thoroughly before considering new legislation.

The MINER Act was the first major revision of the Mine Safety and Health Act in 28 years.  I believe it is appropriate to wait at least 28 months and allow the law to be fully implemented before changing it.