Disasters

Massey Energy's Reckless CEO

Who’s responsible for the disaster at Upper Big Branch Mine? Jon Chait at The New Republic digs up old profiles of Don Blankenship, the owner of Upper Big Branch. As the CEO of Massey Energy, Blankenship consistently ignored violations and fought unions. When Massey was cited for 501 violations in 2000 and 2001—his three biggest rivals combined were cited 175 times combined—Massey said, “We don’t pay much attention to the violation count.” Blankenship has previously promised to spend “whatever it takes” to help the Republican Party win control of the West Virginia state legislature, spending over $6 million on local races and campaigns in just three years. Union leaders also blamed Blakenship for coal miners’ declining union membership, which is down to about 25 percent from a high of 95 percent 30 years ago.