By Don Blankenship
Watergate didn’t cost Nixon the Presidency because he broke into the democratic campaign offices. What did cost him was that he helped cover it up. Essentially, Nixon may not have known about the break-in originally, but he didn’t inform the public as soon as he did know.
Could what we are experiencing today regarding UBB turn out to be similar? The politicians (Congress and maybe even the White House) may not have been aware (as Senator Manchin says he was not) that the UBB explosion was clearly fueled by “natural gas” as opposed to gas coming from the coal seam. It’s possible this could be true even though we were telling everyone that would listen that it was natural gas once the gas sample analyses were available to us nearly four years ago. Additionally the Mine Safety and Health Administration has been very unfair to the Congress, the President, and many others because they have never publicly stated that the gas was not coal gas.
The question now is are the Congressional members from West Virginia and elsewhere asking to see the gas samples and their analytical results? If they are not, why not? If they are what are they learning and when will they tell the public?
Casual observers and very busy legislators could easily be confused by the terms coal bed methane, coal gas, natural gas, and methane. Senator Manchin seemed confused when he was asked whether he knew that the government’s own gas samples after the explosion showed the gas to be natural gas (See short 4 minute video at ubbneveragain.com). The Senator responded “Oh methane you mean the coal bed methane and they hit pockets of . . . (natural gas) I never heard that.”
Explaining these four terms can be tricky, but in the context miners use them “coal gas” and “coal bed methane” are the same exact thing. These are the gases that are released from the coal when it is mined. Coal gas is nearly pure methane. “Methane” is a chemical compound with the chemical formula CH4. Natural gas as coal miners use the term is gas that comes from the ground or shale or someplace other than from the coal.
Chemists can easily tell the difference between what is commonly called by the miners and the public “natural gas” and “coal gas” by their chemical compound. “Coal gas” is almost pure methane. However, “natural gas” contains higher percentages of other gases such as ethane. This is what the experts explain in the documentary.
In summary, the UBB gas that exploded was what is commonly called natural gas. The gas clearly did not come from the coal seam. Additionally, it came out at a rate several times the volume that the mine would have ever released due to mining. Neither of these facts can be reasonably disputed. The government experts know this. Legislators may or may not have understood this before last week but they now know or can easily know if they simply ask a chemist. The chemist will tell them the gas did not come from the coal.
What we don’t need now is “GASGATE”. We need to get on with the truth and make every effort to make sure UBB never happens again.