mine

Don Blankenship Retires!!

  • Posted on: 7 December 2010
  • By: JesseColeman

The infamous Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy Company, has announced he will retire at the end of December.  Given the storms Blankenship had weathered in the past, it came as somewhat of a surprise that the climate change denying, union busting, federal judge bribing, safety law violating, mountain top destroyer is finally calling it quits.  

His decision to leave was likely at the behest of the Massey board, which has announced its intention to sell the company.  Blankenship had always been an obstacle to the sale, publicly decrying the idea by comparing Massey to a “broken down truck” in need of fixing before being put on the market.

As the face of Massey Energy, Blankenship also posed a serious public relations obstacle to any potential sale.  Recently called the “Dark Lord of Coal Country” by the Rolling Stone Magazine, he was a ripe target for those wishing to draw attention to the death and destruction caused by an unapologetic coal industry.  

The embattled CEO is also facing growing legal trouble of his own due to the Upper Big Branch mine explosion.  A judge in West Virginia declined to throw out two separate lawsuits that hold Blankenship personally responsible for the disaster.  Two women widowed by the UBB explosion filed the lawsuits, which Blankenship hoped would be dismissed.  The judge’s decision was announced shortly before Blankenship made public his departure, adding to speculation that he had become a public relations hindrance to Massey’s sale.  

Investors have agreed wholeheartedly with the change in leadership, sending Massey’s stock soaring after news of Blankenship’s retirement.

It is important to remember that as influential as Blankenship was, it is the Massey Energy Company that is ultimately responsible for it’s multiple mining disasters.  Blankenship has been an obvious figurehead for what is wrong with Massey and the coal industry culture at large, but his departure should not distract attention from the fact that coal companies want coal, and they do not care about the environmental and human costs endemic to its extraction.
 

Known Associates: 
Industry: 
Company or Organization: 

Blankenship to Face Two Lawsuits from Upper Big Branch Widows

  • Posted on: 6 December 2010
  • By: JesseColeman

Don Blankenship


Massey CEO Don Blankenship, West Virginia's strip mining overlord, faces two lawsuits that hold him personally responsible for the Upper Big Branch coal mining disaster which killed 29 men.  A Judge in west Virginia ruled that two separate lawsuits, brought by two women widowed by Massey's UBB mine, will not be dismissed as Blankenship had hoped.

Blankenship is accused of being  “willfully negligent” in his direction of the company subsidiaries operating the mine, which violated a host of federal and state safety regulations prior to the explosion.

For more see the Bloomberg News article by Chris Stratton and Margaret Cronin Fisk.
 

Known Associates: 
Industry: 
Company or Organization: 

Massey Continues Campaign to Dodge Responsibility for Upper Big Branch Disaster

  • Posted on: 22 November 2010
  • By: JesseColeman

Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy


Massey Energy recently released a new report claiming the company’s safety practices were not to blame for the Upper Big Branch mining disaster that killed 29 people. Massey Energy’s chief executive Don Blankenship maintains the explosion was caused by natural occurrences and not from unsafe coal mining and ventilation procedures.  He says the report "illustrates that it's something unusual, that it's more likely than not that it came out of the floor… and not out of the natural mining process,” refuting the widely held theory that the deadly explosion was due to the willful disabling of methane detectors.  

The report, authored by Massey “experts,” is the company’s latest contrivance in their campaign to discredit and obstruct government investigations into the disaster.  Other elements of their strategy have included physically keeping investigators from inspecting machinery at the mine, preventing top safety officials from testifying, and publicly accusing the state and federal governments of lying.  Because of Massey’s repeated attempts to sabotage the investigation, MSHA officials have threatened to seize the mine, an extreme action that illustrates the level of hostility felt by investigators.

Avoiding or reducing their liability is of utmost importance to Massey Energy executives, who have announced they were considering all offers for a buy out.  The company has not hit its production targets since 2004, has suffered multiple deadly disasters related to poor safety practices, and posted a net loss of $41.4 million last quarter. Given the fact that any company that buys Massey would be liable for the damages wrought at UBB, company executives have little chance of pawning their problems off on a buyer if the MSHA finds Massey at fault for the UBB explosion.  This means that Massey execs are frantically trying to limit their responsibility for UBB, or at least prolong the investigation long enough to sell the company before the roof falls in on their heads.   

 

Known Associates: