President George W. Bush appointed former energy executive Richard Stickler to head the federal mine safety agency on Thursday, even though the U.S. Senate rejected Stickler's nomination twice in two months.
[..]Sen. Robert Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat, originally put a hold on the nomination for three months and it was automatically rejected when the Senate adjourned for its August recess. Bush then renominated him in September, but the Senate once again refused to act before it left for the pre-election recess.
Byrd and fellow Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts have said that Stickler, who worked for Massey Energy and the former Bethlehem Steel, puts industry interests ahead of safety concerns. The United Mine Workers of America have also opposed the appointment. Read full article here.
UPDATE: Yahoo reports a coal mine explosion in Pennsylvania has killed one