Massey Energy Company (a subsidiary of Alpha Natural Resources) is a coal extractor in the United States with substantial operations in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. By revenue, it is the fourth largest producer of coal in the United States and the largest coal producer in Central Appalachia.
As of 2010, Massey leads the nation in mountaintop removal (MTR) mining, which requires the blowing up of mountaintops to access coal beds underneath. MTR mining has terrible environmental effects, both in terms of destroying natural beauty and poisoning human health.
Due to their use of MTR and a blatant disregard for safety, Massey is one of the most polluting and most dangerous companies in the US.
The CEO of Massey, Don Blankenship, is unrepentant of the environmental damage his company has caused, and considers environmental regulations “as silly as global warming,” of which he is an avid denier.
In 2005, Don Blankenship wrote a memo to employees telling them that maximizing coal production was more important than spending time constructing things like support beams or ventilation shafts. He wrote: “If any of you have been asked by your group presidents, your supervisors, engineers or anyone else to do anything other than run coal (i.e., build overcasts, do construction jobs, or whatever) you need to ignore them and run coal.”
Massey has also had a number of serious and deadly mining accidents that have resulted in scores of deaths in the last decade. The most deadly event was a 2010 mine shaft explosion that killed 29 miners.
Massey $3.5 million in state fines after a coal ash pond failed in October, 2000, spilling 300 million gallons of sludge in Marin County, Kentucky. In 2008 Massey agreed to pay a $20 million fine to the Environmental Protection Agency in settlement of at least 4,500 violations of the Clean Water Act. The EPA charged Massey with dumping coal slurry runoff from strip mining into groundwater and several rivers in West Virginia and Kentucky.
By October 20, Massey spent almost $1,000,000 on advertising in 2010 relating to energy and environmental issues.
Massey's practice of mountain top removal has led to severe pollution of wellwater in mining communities, likely causing cases of illness, organ failure, cancer and birth defects. Massey injected over 1.4 billion gallons of coal ash slurry into abandoned mines in the 1980s, and, according to a community lawsuit, did so knowing that the mines would not be able to contain the slurry. Coal ash contains known neurotoxins, carcinogens, and radioactive elements.
From the 2008 to the 2012 election cycles, Massey spent $23,915 on federal politicians and committees.