November 16, 2014

Will justice be done?

The news of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's indictment on federal charges related to the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster has made national news. The show starts this week, but it looks like we won't see a lot of it unwind due to a gag order by the judge.

Meanwhile, as my friend Ken Ward reports, it looks like Blankenship's tendency to micromanage Massey operations provided an opening for prosecutors.

This NY Times editorial on the subject is worth a look. It both commends the investigation and condemns Congress for its failure to act in the wake of the deaths of 29 miners. Final paragraph:

The investigation is praiseworthy for seeking accountability for miners who should not have died. But the question of industrywide reform has been shamefully neglected by Congress in general and by industry allies in the Republican Party, like Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the incoming majority leader, in particular. The Upper Big Branch disaster continues to expose the need for stronger federal fines and for the authority to shut mines that are repeat offenders of safety rules and threaten the lives of their employees.
While we're at it, you can find my two cents near the bottom of this item from

“I think the fact that these indictments have gone this far up the corporate ladder is truly historic,” said Rick Wilson, of the American Friends Service Committee's West Virginia Economic Justice Project, “and will send a message to future CEOs in coal and other industries that there are limits to the liberties that can be taken with the lives of other people.”

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