April 26, 2014

____ is the new ___

As fads and fashions change, you often hear statements like the one that comprises the title of this post. When we first got goats, not long after the popularity of the March of the Penguins movie, a friend told me "goats might be the new penguins."

I'm not sure that happened, even at Goat Rope Farm...

However, I do think it might be fair to say that Murray Energy is gunning to be the new Massey Energy and its CEO Robert Murray seems to aspire to be the new Don Blankenship. Murray recently announced plans to cut promised benefits to retirees, blaming the whole thing on Obama. Apparently abundant western coal and cheap natural gas have nothing to do with it and it's all the fault of the black guy with the funny name.

Murray laid off several hundred workers for spite after Obama was re-elected, only to quietly hire them back some time later. During the 2012 presidential campaign, he coerced employees to take unpaid leave to attend a Romney rally and donate to right wing candidates.

Like Massey, Murray also has some safety issues. One of its subsidiaries ran the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah, where six miners were killed in 2007. The federal agency MSHA levied $1.85 million in fines against the company. Murray also has a long history of conflict with the United Mine Workers union.

It may take a while for the upstart to catch up with old-time company in sheer vileness and hubris, but it looks like a real possibility.

NOTE: Posts have been few and far between lately. I had a death in the family and was also on the road quite a bit.

April 21, 2014

Vampires got nothing on coal companies

If you doubt that, just take a look at McDowell County, WV, which is one of the state's top coal producing counties for the last 100 years. The wealth has been sucked out and the poverty  and misery have been left behind. Folks there and around WV are working to change things, including a friend of mine mentioned in this article. But it's hard to undo a century of exploitation.