Massey Energy Shareholders: Fire Don Blankenship


Photo via ABC News

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.Think Progress reports:

Shareholders are calling on Massey Energy to seek the immediate resignation of chairman and CEO Don Blankenship in the aftermath of the West Virginia disaster that killed 29 miners, the worst in forty years. The Change to Win Investment Group -- a union pension fund group with over $200 billion in assets -- believes the Upper Big Branch mine explosion is the "tragic consequence of the board's failure to challenge Chairman and CEO Blankenship's confrontational approach to regulatory compliance."
Confrontational approach is right--Blankenship's strategy of late was to challenge mining violations by the truckload, getting them hung up in court so he wouldn't have to pay them (more on that here). As a result, quite a few of his investors are outraged, as Change to Win, and some folks in high places:
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, who controls about $14.1 million of Massey stock as the trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, blasted Massey's "callous disregard for the safety of its employees" as a "failure both of risk management and effective board oversight", [saying]:

"Massey's cavalier attitude toward risk and callous disregard for the safety of its employees has exacted a horrible cost on dozens of hard-working miners and their loved ones. This tragedy was a failure both of risk management and effective board oversight. Blankenship must step down and make room for more responsible leadership at Massey."

The accident at the Massey-owned mine was the worst in 40 years, thought by some to be caused by a buildup of flammable methane--it was obstructed by lack of proper ventilation, one of the cited safety violations--that led to a massive explosion.

More on Massey Energy:
Massey Explosion (Video News)
Massey CEO Don Blankenship's Long History of Ignoring Mining Safety Regulations

Tags: Coal | United States