Don Blankenship charged with conspiracy over mine explosion that killed 29

don blankenship
Screen capture from video

Don Blankenship used to be a fixture on TreeHugger; the colorful (literally, he dressed in a flag) CEO of Massey Energy hated TreeHugger types. I quoted him in 2008 as he complained about environmentalists:

Turn down your thermostats? Buy a smaller car? Conserve? I have spent quite a bit of time in Russia and China, and that's the first stage. You go from having your own car to carpooling to riding the bus to mass transit. You eventually get to where you're walking. You go from your own apartment and bathroom to sharing kitchens with four families. That's what socialism and the elimination of capitalism and free enterprise is all about."

Outside of the bathroom sharing I thought it sounded just fine. It was all fun and games until the biggest mine tragedy in 40 years in April, 2010.

Now, Blankenship has been indicted, accused of being part of a conspiracy to warn mine bosses in advance that inspectors were coming so that they could hide safety violations. According to AP,

After the explosion, Blankenship made false statements and representations to the SEC concerning Massey Energy's safety practices prior to the explosion. He made similar statements in connection with the purchase and sale of Massey Energy stock, the indictment said.

TreeHugger emeritus Brian Merchant did the heavy lifting of our Massey/ Blankenship coverage: Here are somof his posts, that may provide some background.

West Virginia Coal Mine Tragedy: Site Where 25 Died Had 57 Safety Violations Last Month

A tragic explosion thought to be brought about by a methane leak in a West Virginia coal mine has left 25 dead and 4 missing. The blast occurred in a mine operated by Performance Coal Company, a subsidiary of Massey Energy, one of the largest coal companies in the US. More in TreeHugger

In Week After Tragedy, 130 More Serious Safety Violations Found in Massey Mines

In the week following the biggest mining tragedy in the last 40 years, the Mine Health and Safety Administration has found a disconcerting 130 "significant and substantial" safety violations at dozens of other Massey mines. More in TreeHugger

Don Blankenship: Mine Safety Regulators "As Silly as Global Warming" (Video)

I spent a little time last week writing about the Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. Massey owns the West Virginia mine that had racked up thousands of safety violations by the time tragedy struck last week, leaving 29 miners dead. I profiled Blankenship's long history of putting profit over miner safety, but I forgot one particularly telling video, first shown on TreeHugger last September. It needs to be seen to be believed: More in TreeHugger

Massey CEO Don Blankenship's Long History of Ignoring Mining Safety for Profit

The Man Behind the West Virginia Coal Mine Tragedy?
With all of the information that continues to be revealed after the tragic accident at the mine killed 25, it's hard not to start pointing fingers at the man in charge. And in this case, it's easier than usual to do so--Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy, the company that owns the coal mine, seems to have modeled his job after the very caricature of a villainous corporate tycoon. More in TreeHugger

Massey Energy Shareholders: Fire Don Blankenship

Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, whose record of ignoring safety violations in has come under fierce scrutiny after the tragedy in his West Virginia Upper Big Branch mine left 29 dead. That mine itself had racked up 57 safety violations the same month the accident occurred, and had thousands more prior. Meanwhile, Blankenship has a long history of putting profits before safety, and has publicly declared this to be the case on a number of occasions--now, in light of recent evidence, shareholders of Massey Energy are calling for the company to fire him. More in TreeHugger

Tags: Coal | Coal Ash


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