Don Blankenship

Blankenship Asks Trump to Resist Punishing Coal Executives

May 16, 2017
Flickr/Creative Commons/Rainforest Action Network

Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship asked President Donald Trump on Tuesday to resist attempts in Congress to enhance criminal penalties for coal executives who violate mine safety and health standards.

Blankenship, who recently was freed from federal prison, also asked the president in a letter to re-examine a federal investigation into the nation's worst coal mining disaster in four decades.

Blankenship served a year in prison for a misdemeanor conviction of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia, where 29 workers died in a 2010 explosion. Jurors didn't convict him of another conspiracy and securities fraud charges that could have extended his sentence to 30 years.

Ashton Marra, WVPB

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is scheduled to be released from an Arizona halfway house on Wednesday after serving a year in federal prison.

Blankenship was found guilty of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards in December, 2015, after a federal investigation of the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in West Virginia. An explosion at the mine in April, 2010, killed 29 men.

The U.S. Attorney argued that the explosion was the result of a conspiracy under Blankenship’s leadership to shirk safety laws in order to increase production and profits.