April 12, 2010
This month we lost 29 coal miners as a result of an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship appeared after the explosion in a somewhat somber state, but still defiant to mine regulations. Blankenship has been very successful in thwarting any attempts by the government to enforce safety conditions. As such, he in effect is a mass murderer.
The Washington Post recently published this article detailing the safety violations and how Massey and others not only avoid the penalties but out-wait the government to avoid listing the violations.
The [violation backlog] works to the advantage of mining operators. When weighing whether to put a mine in the pattern-of-violation category, federal regulators cannot count any contested violation, and they may consider only violations that have occurred within the past 24 months. Yet cases at the commission are taking an average of 27 months to resolve.
Massey had 54 violations in the past 12 months; 11 times the national average.
The company makes huge profits from their much-desired high gasified coal from Upper Big Branch, used primarily by the steel industry. Therefore they are not going to let something as mundane as safety stand in their way, especially when the only lives in danger are those ‘low-life underlings’ of West Virginia. And Blankenship himself uses his multi-million dollar pay check to support any and all groups that are against anyone who might want to enforce safety.
The majority of our politicians in Washington are accessories to the murders. They passed laws that are industry friendly, and the so-called regulators turn their heads most of the time. It’s reminiscence of the regulators of the financial industry. The laws and regulatory agencies are there for one reason and one reason only — eye candy for the common people.
The two charts below reflect the safety violations by the coal industry. Massey, with Blankenship at the head, led the industry in both violations and arrogance of defiance.