Evil Murdery Mining CEO Don Blankenship Indicted For Being Unbelievable Dick
This post brought to you by the Patty Dumpling Endowed Chair for Coalmine Explosions, Oil Spills, and Occasional Revenge Fantasies.
Yr Wonkette is a generally peaceful sort, a secularist who believes that people should try to be nice to each other and to get along. We don't believe in the death penalty, and we don't believe in Hell.
Which is why we are a little surprised to find ourselves thinking how satisfied we would be if Don Blankenship, the former CEO of coal mining giant Massey Energy, were to be sentenced to die in a mine cave-in and then spent eternity in torment, ideally in some psychological retribution designed by Rod Serling for dramatic effect. One just has to accept that there will be parts of one's ethical worldview that clash now and then, we suppose.
Don Blankenship, you may recall, was CEO of Massey when that company's Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia exploded in 2010, killing 29 miners. It was the worst American mine disaster since 1970, and multiple investigations have blamed the disaster on Massey's systematic avoidance of safety regulations. One independent investigation -- commissioned by then-Gov. Joe Manchin -- found that the disaster had been caused by a "corporate mentality that placed the drive to produce coal above worker safety" at the mine, and which determined that "Many systems created to safeguard miners had to break down in order for an explosion to occur."
Ands now, the bastard has been indicted by a federal court in West Virginia. One might have hoped that it would be for 29 counts of homicide, but since Blankenship is a corporate murderer, we'll have to settle for something slightly less dramatic. Even so, the indictment comes pretty close:
The charges hold him personally responsible for the hundreds of safety violations in 28 months leading up to the explosion. They included failing to ventilate coal dust and methane, which are highly explosive, and failing to water down equipment to prevent sparks that could ignite an explosion.
According to the indictment, Mr. Blankenship’s aggressive enforcement of mining quotas left workers no time to build ventilation systems “because constructing them diverted time from coal production.” He denied a request to build an air shaft in a mine where airflow was below the legal minimum, the indictment said. He also cut the number of miners focusing on safety in order to make the operation more profitable.
In addition, he's accused of authorizing a plan that warned miners so they could appear to be following federal safety guidelines -- but only when a federal inspector showed up:
By using “code words and phrases,” word was passed by telephone from a guardhouse to a mine office to supervisors deep underground, who ordered miners “to quickly cover up violations” before inspectors arrived, the indictment said.
Beyond the charges of conspiracy to violate safety regulations, the indictment also accuses Blankenship of defrauding the federal government as well as charges of securities fraud and lying to the government about Massey's financial dealings and safety practices. If convicted, he could go to prison for up to 31 years. Which would be a start.
Needless to say, Blankenship's attorney accuses the corrupt, evil feds of persecuting Blankenship, who is actually a worker safety activist his own self:
“Don Blankenship has been a tireless advocate for mine safety,” the lawyer, William W. Taylor III, said in a statement. “His outspoken criticism of powerful bureaucrats has earned this indictment. He will not yield to their effort to silence him.”
He's so brave.
If you can stomach listening to the lying weasel talk, here's Blankenship in a recent interview with Chris Hayes, in which Blankenship is so intent on pushing his transparent talking points that Hayes can't help but giggle at the shameless walking bag of self-promotion:
Here's hoping Don Blankenship gets every year of that possible sentence. It's far kinder than what he deserves.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.