By Donald Cohen. Posted on May 20, 2011.
The New York Times Editorial, The Truth About Upper Big Branch, starts this way:
“An inquiry by the state of West Virginia into the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion that killed 29 workers has found the mine’s owner, Massey Energy, “profoundly reckless” in elevating its drive to produce profits above worker safety.”
The report found that the mine owners could have prevented the explosion could have been prevented if Massey had observed minimal safety standards.
This wasn’t only about inadequate safety standards. It was a product of decades of “in your face” opposition to rules and regulations by recently retired Massey CEO, Don Blankenship. He was a big political spender and a leader of the coal lobby in fighting mine safety standards and enforcement.
Virulently anti-union, here’s Don Blankenship’s speech at his antiunion Labor Day rally, April 12, 2010:
“We also endure a Mine Safety and Health Administration that seeks power over coal miners versus improving their safety and their health. As someone who has overseen the mining of more coal than anyone else in the history of central Appalachia, I know that the safety and health of coal miners is my most important job. I don’t need Washington politicians to tell me that, and neither do you. But I also know — I also know Washington and state politicians have no idea how to improve miner safety. The very idea that they care more about coal miner safety than we do is as silly as global warming.”
Read even more of Blankenship’s on The Center for American Progress’s Think Progress post after the disaster.