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Don Blankenship, we hardly knew ye

Melissa Waage

Posted December 5, 2010

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On a few occasions I’ve wound up in a room with Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.  When he walks in it always feels a little like this:

But now that Blankenship has unexpectedly resigned from Massey, a lot of people will be ringing in the New Year like this:

Massey, of course, is the company best known and reviled for its thousands of environmental and worker safety violations, its status as one of the leading mountaintop removal coal producers, and, most recently, the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster.   And Blankenship is best known for his dead-eyed non-apologies for the deaths of 29 miners, his enthusiastic union busting, and his quaint global warming denialism.

He went out rogue-general style, announcing his resignation just a week after Rolling Stone published this scathing profile of the CEO.  (Thought personally, I think the best portrait yet published of Blankenship, the man, is David Roberts’  “Don Blankenship is an Evil Bastard” on Grist.) 

Why did Blankenship resign? Only he knows for sure, but I think there’s just not a place in this world anymore for people like him, even at one of the dirtiest mining companies.  Momentum is growing to stop mountaintop removal mining.  There are only so many needless deaths, polluted waters, and dismantled communities the people of America can stand.  With Massey looking for a buyer, a dinosaur like Blankenship can only be a liability. And that’s a piece of good news.  

So the many people bravely fighting mountaintop removal have reason for hope today.  As even Darth Vader can tell you, “The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the force.”

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Stan DotsonDec 10 2010 04:51 PM

I wrote about Don Blankenship and the American Dream/American Nightmare today on my blog site, Daily Passages (a site that explores the connections between spirituality and culture). You can check it out at:

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