Friday, May 01, 2015

You Load 16 Tons


Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, aka coal in WVa, has a Nixon problem.  Turns out the Don recorded his phone calls and now the prosecutors have them.  How they have them is one of those stories.

When Blankenship was under pressure, he sold Massey off to Alpha National Resources with the understanding that Alpha would cover his legal expenses, and, of course, he has them, being under indictment for evasion of mine safety and financial reporting requirements.

The Charleston Gazette reports that when Alpha got into Blankenship's office they found a telephone recording setup and a pile of tapes.  The listened to the tapes.  They blanched.  They turned the tapes over to prosecutors.

Now this was not a totally disinterested act of public responsibility.  After all Alpha mines coal, but as they now say, since Blankenship was actually doing the things that he is charged with they have no responsibility to pay for his defense.

Blankenship was infamous for forcing his mine workers to run coal at all costs and obstructing the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and their inspectors, again at all costs, and he knew what he was doing

“Sometimes I’m torn with what I see about the craziness we do,” Blankenship told then-Massey chief operating officer Chris Adkins in November 2009. “Maybe if it weren’t for MSHA, we’d blow ourselves up.” 
Blankenship said, “I know MSHA is bad, but ... I tell you what ... we do some dumb things. I don’t know what we’d do if we didn’t have them.”
Coal mining is dirty

7 comments:

Fernando Leanme said...

Other than the fact that he recordad the calls this isn't exactly a big deal. Anybody who supervises thousands of people carrying out sensitive work knows there's a potential breakdown in the works.

Let me describe how I used to try to motivate workers to emphasize safety when I worked in Africa: every morning I got the key people together, described the day's plans, and reminded them that if we got through the next 24 hours without any incidents we would distribute a bottle of bitter lemon soda to each worker at the end of his shift. It worked. We only had one close call, and the one who would have been killed was me.

neverendingaudit said...

> Anybody who supervises thousands of people carrying out sensitive work knows there's a potential breakdown in the works.

Does it mean you allow the IPCC to say the same when it messes up, Fernando?

Russell Seitz said...

What possible harm could an exploding econometric model do?

EliRabett said...


And you wonder why Gremlins thrive?

Russell Seitz said...

When everything must go wrong, the gremlinsl strike for higher wages of sin.

John said...

More on Don Blankenship, from Mother Jones.

Grim highlights:

The Upper Branch mine generated more profits for Massey Energy than any other group of mines.

Massey racked up about one mine safety violation per day.

An explosion at the Upper Branch Mine killed 29 miners.



Chris_Winter said...

There are several books about Massey Energy. For example:

Thunder on the Mountain

But the one I recommend is:

Coal River by Michael Shnayerson.