This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," January 6, 2006, that was edited for clarity.
STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: Two million more Americans are working today than they were a year ago, the unemployment rate down to 4.9 percent. And economists are optimistic that job growth will continue this year, good news from the Labor Department today, a week that it has been focused on the coal mining industry, in the wake of the Sago Mine tragedy.
The department is taking steps to help ensure accidents like that never happen again.
Leading that charge, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, who joins us now.
Madam Secretary, will you redefine which safety violations lead to the immediate closure of a coal mine?
ELAINE CHAO, LABOR SECRETARY: Well, you know, despite the downward trend in fatalities and injuries in the coal industry, our goal, obviously, is zero fatalities.
Last year, we had 22 fatalities. And, in 2001, we had about 43. So, the trend is downward, but, obviously we...
VARNEY: Are you going to change the rules?
CHAO: Obviously, we are concerned and we want to have zero fatalities. The Mine Safety and Health...
VARNEY: I'm sorry. I hate to interrupt, but look, it's a judgment call, isn't it?
Can you really say, look, if you have got X degree of methane in the mine, you close it down? Can you say that, if you have got two roof collapses, you close it down? You can't be as objective as that, can you?
CHAO: I think it's very important not to speculate at this point.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration has announced they're establishing an independent investigation into what happened at the mine, and, also, the miscommunication of vital information during the early morning hours of Wednesday, which led to such heartbreak for the families.
So, let's see what the investigation yields. And, hopefully, we will learn some lessons overall, as a country, from them as well.
VARNEY: But I can sum it up by saying, depending on that investigation, you are prepared to change the rules on mine safety?
CHAO: We're always vigilant about mine safety.
We have a strong enforcement program. We have asked consistently, for three years now, for increased civil penalties for certain infractions. And we will continue to enforce very aggressively.
VARNEY: Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, thanks for joining us, ma'am. Appreciate it.
CHAO: Thank you.
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