Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Coal Baron Found Guilty of Infamous Mine Blast: But Was Justice Served?

Energy

The landmark conviction of former Massey Energy CEO and coal baron Don Blankenship yesterday on a misdemeanor conspiracy charge to violate mine safety laws is a small, but historic first step in holding mining outlaws accountable for their reckless operations. For the first time in memory for those of us with friends, family, miners and loved ones living amid the toxic fallout of the coal industry, this conviction may only serve as a tiny reckoning of our nation's complacency with a continual state of violations, but it could begin a new era of justice and reconciliation in the devastated coal mining communities in Appalachia and around the nation.

With the most serious charges dropped, Blankenship's misdemeanor charge only carries up to one year in prison. Meanwhile, the trauma of loss for the Upper Big Branch mining families will endure among generations of families.

The tragedy of spiraling black lung disease among coal miners will continue, notably part of the autopsies among 71 percent of the miners lost in the Upper Big Branch disaster.

The crime of cancer-linked mountaintop removal from Blankenship's violation-ridden former Massey Energy operations will continue; the potential disasters from coal slurry impoundments will still hang above the heads of residents.

"Either way there is no justice for the men that lost their lives in the Upper Big Branch Explosion," said Maria Gunnoe, a Goldman Prize recipient in West Virginia, "nor will there be justice for the families that lost so much more than just coal miners. The time has come that there is no other choice but to convict these obvious criminals. Don Blankenship's punishment will never match his crimes against the people of Appalachia."

"Don Blankenship's conviction doesn't feel like victory" added Bob Kincaid, president of Coal River Mountain Watch, "but in the grand scope of more than a century of the coal industry's abuse of the people of Appalachia, it may mark a stating place, but that is a only hope at the very most. My heart aches for all those who suffered and died under Blankenship's avaricious lash. The jury showed him more mercy than he has ever shown anyone in his entire existence on this planet. Even if he serves his one year slap-on-the-wrist, we know already that justice will not be done. His legacy of poisoning Appalachia will persist long after his name has been forgotten."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Bill McKibben: 'Paris Summit is Missing One of the Great World Leaders on Climate' Because He's in Prison

James Hansen: Fracking is 'Screwing Your Children and Grandchildren'

Exxon Targets Journalists Who Exposed Massive Climate Cover Up

Obama: We Must Create a 'World That is Worthy of Our Children'

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The moon sets over the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico on March 14, 2017 in Hidalgo, Texas. John Moore / Getty Images

In the midst of a global pandemic, President Donald Trump found time earlier this week to sign an executive order for U.S. companies to mine the moon's mineral resources, according to Newsweek.

Read More Show Less
Workers unload boxes of medical supplies at Mount Sinai Hospital amid the coronavirus pandemic on March 31, 2020 in New York City. Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The supply chain that provides medical supplies to the world is favoring the U.S. and Europe, which are outbidding poorer nations for masks, gowns, gloves and ventilators during the coronavirus pandemic, according to NPR.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

A garbage yard in Lucknow, India where plastic bottles are dumped before being sent to recycling. Abhimanyu Kumar Sharma / Moment / Getty Images

Scientists have engineered a mutant enzyme that converts 90 percent of plastic bottles back to pristine starting materials that can then be used to produce new high-quality bottles in just hours. The discovery could revolutionize the recycling industry, which currently saves about 30 percent of PET plastics from landfills, reported Science Magazine.

Read More Show Less
A woman drinks tea inside her home. martin-dm / Getty Images

Cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during a winter blizzard.

In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Pope Francis delivers his homily on April 9, 2020 behind closed doors at St. Peter's basilica in the Vatican. ALESSANDRO DI MEO / POOL / AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis spoke about the novel coronavirus, suggesting that the global pandemic might be one of nature's responses to the man-made climate crisis.

Read More Show Less