Meet Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy Company. Blankenship is also on the Board of Directors of the US Chamber of Commerce. In this speech above, he denies climate change, derisively refers to Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid, and others as "greeniacs", and calls them all crazy. Watch the speech, you'll see. In his mind, "the greeniacs are taking over the world."
Massey Energy Company, Blankenship's highly successful strip-mining and mountaintop removal operation is the parent company of Performance Coal Co, where a tragic explosion occurred on April 5th. As of this writing, 25 miners have died and 4 more are still missing. Twenty-five families are without a loved one. Four more may discover they have lost someone they love too. 29 families in all, forever changed by one single, violent event in a coal mine. One single violent event in a coal mine run by a company so obsessed with profit it runs roughshod over employees' and neighbors' health and safety.
Here's something else about Don Blankenship and Massey Energy Company: Blankenship spent over $1 million dollars along with other US Chamber buddies like Verizon to sponsor last year's Labor Day Tea Party, also known as the "Friends of America Rally." Here's Massey's pitch. Note how he makes it sound like he isn't one of the corporate enemies of America.
The Friends of America Rally featured such notables as Sean Hannity, Ted Nugent, and Hank Williams, Jr., and was graced by Blankenship himself going off on a diatribe that seemed strange at the time, but has come to be commonplace these days. It concerned President Obama, Democrats, and any one who doesn't salute God, coal, and apple pie. Oh, and we're also going to 'steal their jobs,' if Hannity is to be believed.
Blankenship and Massey Energy spend millions to defend unsafe workplaces
The Upper Big Branch Mine that suffered the most serious mining disaster since 1984 on Monday has received the most serious citations from the Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in 2009 of all Massey Energy-owned mines in West Virginia. Data collected from MSHA shows that over the course of the last year, the Upper Big Branch Mine received 48 “unwarrantable failure orders,” far exceeding Massey Energy’s number two recipient of serious citations in West Virginia.
On Monday, 25 miners were killed and left four others trapped underground at the Upper Big Branch Mine. It is the worst mining disaster in the United States since 1984 and, if the four trapped miners are not rescued, would become the worst since 1970. The Washington Post reports, “[t]he cause of Monday’s explosion has not been determined, but a buildup of methane or coal dust was considered the likeliest culprit.”
The Upper Big Branch mine received 39 violations in 2009 citing a failure to plan for ventilation to extract methane and other chemicals. Fifteen of these were considered “significant and substantial.” In July of 2009, the mine received its largest monetary fine of the year ($66,142) for allowing the accumulation of combustible materials in working spaces. Upper Big Branch received 34 similar violations citing accumulation of combustible materials, 20 of which were determined to be “significant and substantial.”
Massey Energy has contested nearly all major citations issued against the Upper Big Branch Mine in 2009 and has paid less than 20% of the fines levied against them. Of the top 100 fines levied against the Upper Big Branch Mine in 2009, Massey Energy has contested or are delinquent in paying 85% of them. Upper Big Branch was also cited for 202 violations that were considered “significant and substantial.” Seventy-six percent of those have either been contested or Massey Energy is delinquent in paying them.