Former Energy CEO: Climate Denial Biased Investigations Into Mine Disaster

WASHINGTON - MAY 20: Chairman and CEO of Massey Energy Company Don Blankenship pauses as he testifies during a hearing before the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee May 20, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The hearing was to examine issues regarding the safety of coal mining.
National Journal
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Jason Plautz
April 1, 2014, 7:35 a.m.

Former Mas­sey En­ergy CEO Don Blanken­ship says that his opin­ions on cli­mate change in­flu­enced a fed­er­al in­vest­ig­a­tion that blamed his com­pany’s shoddy safety re­cord for a 2010 mine dis­aster that killed 29 miners.

Speak­ing on MS­N­BC on Monday, Blanken­ship re­it­er­ated his opin­ion that the Up­per Big Branch mine dis­aster was caused by nat­ur­al gas, con­trary to fed­er­al, state, and in­de­pend­ent re­ports that blamed the ex­plo­sion on a buildup of coal dust and a faulty vent­il­a­tion sys­tem. As to why the Mine Safety and Health Ad­min­is­tra­tion would reach a dif­fer­ent con­clu­sion, Blanken­ship said it was per­son­al.

“The fact that I’ve been very polit­ic­ally in­volved, I don’t be­lieve in cli­mate change be­ing man-made and a whole host of oth­er reas­ons,” Blanken­ship said in an in­ter­view with Steve Kor­nacki. “There are a lot of things that MSHA is do­ing that’s mak­ing miners un­safe. Ba­sic­ally you have an op­por­tun­ity to help us make the mines safer “¦ if it’s not just a per­son­al at­tack but a fo­cus on what really happened at UBB.”

Blanken­ship’s ap­pear­ance was tied to the re­lease of a video Monday in which he lays out the case for the nat­ur­al-gas ex­plo­sion and blames fed­er­al reg­u­lat­ors for not do­ing enough to im­ple­ment safety meas­ures that can pro­tect miners. That video gained no­tori­ety after Sen. Joe Manchin, who is fea­tured heav­ily, said he was duped in­to ap­pear­ing in it.

Blanken­ship on Tues­day blas­ted Manchin, who has since called for the video to be pulled from the In­ter­net. In a series of tweets, Blanken­ship cri­ti­cizes the Demo­crat­ic sen­at­or and former West Vir­gin­ia gov­ernor for his cri­ti­cism of the doc­u­ment­ary.

Manchin, mean­while, sent a let­ter to Adroit Films, the pro­duc­tion com­pany be­hind the 50-minute video, re­quest­ing that it be with­drawn.

“Your fraud­u­lent be­ha­vi­or in se­cur­ing the in­ter­view and your mis­rep­res­ent­a­tion of my in­ter­view are ac­tion­able of­fenses,” Manchin said. “I ex­pect you to cease dis­tri­bu­tion of this film and re­move any ref­er­ences to my name, im­age, and like­ness.”

Adroit Films has not re­spon­ded to mul­tiple re­quests for com­ment.


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