Blood On His Hands: Coal Baron Blankenship May Finally Go Down
It took four years, but a federal grand jury has indicted former, scum-sucking, much-despised Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship on a raft of "routine and willful" safety violation charges - conspiracy to violate federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, and after the explosion making false statements to both the SEC and corporate buyers - in the catastrophic 2010 explosion at West Virginia Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 people, the worst coal mine disaster in this country in 40 years. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said the root cause of the disaster was Massey’s “systematic, intentional and aggressive efforts” to conceal life-threatening problems.
The indictment charges the once-untouchable Blankenship - a vociferous coal booster, climate change denier and defender of cutting corners in the name of profits who longtime critics charged represented "the dark heart of power" - with years of ignoring a host of safety issues, including the excessive levels of highly inflammable coal dust that caused the explosion; of warning managers when federal inspectors were expected; and of keeping false records, including two sets of inspection books. After the explosion and his forced resignation, albeit with a golden parachute, Blankenship allegedly lied to both the SEC and to potential buyers of Massey stock. He faces up to 31 years in prison. From the long-suffering families of the 29 miners who died: "Thank God it finally happened...We got the top dog."