EHS OutLoud Blog

Don Blankenship: Martyr or Monster?

There are a few things you should know about former Massey Energy Co. CEO Don Blankenship.

He was born in Kentucky, grew up poor and spent his early years watching “Gunsmoke” and pumping gas into coalminers’ cars at his family’s gas station in West Virginia, according to his website. (Yes, he has a website, home of “Don Blankenship: American Competitionist.”)

He attended Marshall University, and managed to sneak out of there with a four-year degree – “despite skipping more classes than [he] attended.”

In his nearly three decades at Massey, he “learned about, and struggled against, the ignorance and evilness of the United Mine Workers, much of the media, the ‘greeniacs’ and much of corporate America."

“You should also know that I hold not only the liberals of the media, the union and the environmental movement responsible for the plight of our country, but also those who call themselves conservatives who oversee corporate America,” Blankenship explains on his website.

He’s had a great life. You should know that too. And he hopes that he can leverage his “wide range of life experiences” to make “a small contribution to saving our country.”

He’s a man of science – especially when it comes to saving his own skin – and a man of safety. Just look at all the safety innovations he contributed to the mining industry.

Since retiring in 2010 – the same year that 29 workers died in one of his coalmines – Blankenship has been managing his finances, enjoying his son’s racing and spending time with his best friend, Meiling.

He also squeezed in a few hours to commission a documentary about the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, evidently as part of his mission to save us from ourselves. The documentary not only opens our eyes to how MSHA botched the Upper Big Branch accident investigation but also to the fact that MSHA – not Massey Energy – caused the accident, by forcing Massey to implement an inadequate ventilation plan.

With all of that in mind, I’ll ask you this: Is Don Blankenship a greedy executive who put his miners in harm’s way just to make a few bucks, as some concluded after the Upper Big Branch tragedy? Or is he the victim of a sinister conspiracy among the unions, government regulators and liberal media?

Perhaps watching his documentary might offer some insight. Judging by the majority of the YouTube comments, I think I know the answer.  

 

TAGS: Safety
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