The Salt Lake Tribune and other news media are suing U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao for access to closed Mine Safety and Health Administration panel hearings on the Crandall Canyon mine disaster.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, says the public has a “legitimate interest” in attending MSHA panel proceedings. Two catastrophic collapses in the central Utah coal mine killed six miners and three would-be rescuers.
I’ve been keeping track of the stuff with MSHA, and especially in relation to the latest going with Crandall Creek. This is undoubtedly in response to the media being kept out of the proceedings that have involve the panel set up by Governor Huntsman to investigate the disaster. Without question, the media should be allowed in. Federal, state, county, and city monies have been and will be expended.
As the editor, Nancy Conway, of the Salt Lake Tribune states: “We believe that the public should have access (to the panel’s proceedings) and we act on behalf of the public. We think this is information that is very important to the people of the state of Utah.”
In order to fulfill their First Amendment obligations to the public, the lawsuit states, the Tribune and other news media – including CNN, The Associated Press and The Deseret Morning News – are asking the court to halt the MSHA proceedings until they have an opportunity to make their case before a judge.
The plaintiffs are also asking for copies of any documents presented to the MSHA panel, as well as transcripts of witness testimonies given up to this point, Conway said.