Winds of Change Newsletter, March 2011 See sidebar for table of contents
Blankenship: Good Riddance
OVEC extends big ole kudos to author Jeff Goodell, who has continued to remain in touch with OVEC staff since he wrote Big Coal, filmed for Dirty Business, and as he worked on The Dark Lord of Coal Country, an article that ran in Rolling Stone on November 29, 2010.
Goodells blistering article is attributed with having forced the resignation of Massey CEO Don Blankenship, who according the article, is a man who pursues naked self-interest and calls it patriotism, who buys judges like cheap hookers, treats workers like dogs, blasts mountains to get at a few inches of coal and uses his money and influence to ensure that America remains enslaved to the 19th-century idea that burning coal equals progress.
A big portion of the Rolling Stone article is about Blankenships personal decision to inject slurry into underground mines around the Mingo County communities of Rawl, Lick Creek, Merrimac and Sprigg, and the subsequent lawsuit by hundreds of people who allege the slurry injections have poisoned their families. Massey injected at least 1.4 billion gallons of slurry coal prep plant waste in the area. Peoples water turned from sweet to foul and they began noticing illness in almost every household. Some residents contacted OVEC for help and it was our organizers who first networked Mingo residents with the attorneys who are working on this case.
Just one week after Goodells story ran, Blankenship announced he was retiring. Of course, he had been under a lot of scrutiny, too, for the April 2009 explosion at Masseys Upper Big Branch Mine, which left 29 miners dead.
Blankenship retired New Years Eve. About a month later Alpha Natural Resources announced its intention to buy out Massey in an about eight-billion-dollar merger, which needs approval from regulators and share holders.