skip to main content

→ Top Stories:
Clean Power plan
Safe Chemicals

Pete Altman’s Blog

Caught on Tape: The Big Lies of Big Coal

Pete Altman

Posted December 11, 2008

Share | | |

By now, you've probably read about Massey Energy CEO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Director Don Blankenship's now infamous November 20, 2008 speech in West Virginia.   

Several people - including NRDC's own Frances Beinecke - have expressed their views about this rather astounding public display of nastiness and chicken little-like denial

But there's no substitute for actually watching Don Blankenship giving the speech in question.  We managed to snag the only video available of Blankenship's hour-long diatribe.  Aside from the extremism of the views expressed, I was struck by the calm and measured pace of his delivery. It reminded me a bit of the famous Michael Douglas monologue in Wall Street, in which his Gordon Gecko character calmly, firmly makes the case that greed is good. Well I guess if you have something nutty to say - like coal is good for the environment - you have a better chance of being taken seriously if you say it calmly.  

The first thing we have to offer for your viewing pleasure is a 7 minute 30 second version of the "highlights" of the Massey speech:


If you're like us, the highlights reel of Blankenship speech is too much condensed craziness to absorb in just one sitting.  So, we will now break it all down for you so that you can savor and review the best parts at your leisure.

Here's the part where Blankenship says that climate change is not real:


That takes us to the part where Blankenship says labels Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Al Gore as "crazies" and "greeniacs":


More about the dreaded "greeniacs" and how they are plotting to take over the world: 


Bet you couldn't see this one coming:  Those people who say climate change exists.  Liars.  Total liars.


Our personal favorite is this part of the speech where Blankenship sounds as though he has been sniffing coal dust.  It goes without saying that if you disagree with Don Blankenship, you're a communist an atheist or both of the above:


Blankenship goes on with his bizarre theories about how mass transit will destroy American capitalism.  Or, how dealing with global warming will cause the Chinese to take over and tell you where you have to go to church.

But you get the idea. 

Next time you hear someone from the coal industry asking to be taken seriously about "clean coal" or the nonexistent "debate" about climate change, just remember the wit and wisdom of Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

Share | | |


Dianna RichardsonDec 14 2008 03:45 AM

"Blankenship goes on with his bizarre theories about how mass transit will destroy American capitalism. Or, how dealing with global warming will cause the Chinese to take over and tell you where you have to go to church."

Do you have that part of the transcript? I'm interested in that comment.

David ValentineDec 17 2008 07:33 PM

That guy is scary, and I'm glad you're getting this out. That said, one of the things that troubles me about the debate is when neither side hears the troubling nuggets in the midst of the message--the babies in the bathwater. The troubling nugget in Massey's diatribe is the reference to international competitiveness: What if we "lead" and do not do enough to ensure China and others "follow"? It seems the only ways we can truly lead (with no quotes) are to 1) ensure what we do does not harm our competitiveness and 2) ensure trade agreements contain enforcible measures to ensure any reductions in economic efficiency are undertaken by all signing nations. I know the latter is a frequent talking point from our side ("fair" trade rather than free trade), but it's a lot more easily said than done. We do need to think and talk seriously about these (and similar) issues if we're to prevail in the public mind (and therefore in the political sphere) over wingnuts like Massey.

Comments are closed for this post.


Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit

Feeds: Pete Altman’s blog

Feeds: Stay Plugged In