Activists Send Message to Massey CEO Don Blankenship at the National Press Club: 'Your Coal Is Not Clean, Safe or Forever.'

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Amanda Starbuck, 415.203.9952
Nell Greenberg, 510.847.9777

Activists Send Message to Massey CEO Don Blankenship at the National Press Club: 'Your Coal Is Not Clean, Safe or Forever.'

WASHINGTON - Today activists with the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) attended
Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's National Press Club speaking event.
RAN was there to call attention to Massey's repeated mine safety
violations, including the April 5 Upper Big Branch mine explosion in
which 29 miners tragically died, as well as the company's lead role in
mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR). Blankenship has gained quite a
reputation for his company's mine safety violations as well as his
indifference to environmental protection and climate change.

"Massey is the BP of the coal industry: reckless, arrogant and an
obstacle to the clean energy future that the president and the country
is calling for," said Amanda Starbuck of the Rainforest Action Network.
"The bottom line is that clean, safe and forever are three words that Massey Energy can never credibly say."

Massey mines more MTR coal than any other company in Appalachia,
mining 20% of all MTR coal in 2009. Blankenship spoke at the National
Press Club on the topic of increasing the surface mining of coal. It
seems Blankenship is trying to protect his company's future at a time
when the tide is clearly turning away from the controversial mountaintop
removal coal mining practice. In the last year, leading scientists,
congressional representatives, Appalachians, environmentalists and even
the late coal state Senator Robert Byrd have all called into question
the coal mining practice. In addition, in April the EPA came out with
strict new guidelines on MTR, which make it harder for companies like
Massey to receive mining permits.

Currently, mountaintop removal coal makes up 7 percent of the
nation's total coal use but has an outsized impact on Appalachia's
environmental and public health. Massey Energy's mountaintop removal
mine sites use some of the most environmentally devastating types of
mining to blow up Appalachian mountains and bury streams in toxic mine
waste in order to reach coal seams that lie deep beneath the mountains'
surface. Since 1992, nearly 2,000 miles of Appalachian streams have been
filled at a rate of 120 miles per year with toxic surface mining waste.
The estimated scale of deforestation from existing Appalachian surface
mining operations is equivalent in size to the state of Delaware. 

A paper released in January by a dozen leading scientists in the journal Science
concluded that mountaintop coal mining is so destructive that the
government should stop giving out new permits for the practice all
together. "The science is so overwhelming that the only conclusion that
one can reach is that mountaintop mining needs to be stopped," said
Margaret Palmer, a professor at the University of Maryland Center for
Environmental Sciences and the study's lead author, when the paper was
released.

Coal mining costs Appalachians five times more in early deaths than
the industry provides to the region in jobs, taxes and other economic
benefits, according to a groundbreaking new study released this month by
a West Virginia University researcher. Several peer-reviewed studies
have also found that residents of coal-producing counties are more
likely to suffer from chronic heart, lung and kidney diseases and more
likely to be hospitalized for certain health problems, like lung cancer,
that are connected to coal pollution.

Massey Energy has a long history of environmental and social
irresponsibility. It has been cited for repeated mine safety violations
in recent years, racking up hundreds of penalties at the infamous Upper
Big Branch mine alone as well as playing a role in one of the largest
slurry spills ever to take place in the United States, the 2000 Martin
County sludge spill in Kentucky.

For more information about coal and public health, visit: http://www.publichealthreports.org/

For more information about mountaintop removal and Rainforest Action Network, visit: http://ran.org/content/mountaintop-removal-american-tragedy

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Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is headquarted in San Francisco, California with offices staff in Tokyo, Japan, and Edmonton, Canada, plus thousands of volunteer scientists, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens around the world. We believe that a sustainable world can be created in our lifetime, and that aggressive action must be taken immediately to leave a safe and secure world for our children.  

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