On Tuesday, the former CEO of Massey Energy released an open letter to President Trump urging the administration to ignore any legislation that would strengthen punishments for mining company executives and supervisors who knowingly flout safety rules.
“Coal supervisors are not criminals, and the laws they work under today are already frightening enough for them. More onerous criminal laws will not improve mine safety,” Blankenship wrote. He said that Congress “too often wants to punish coal companies, coal operators, and coal supervisors versus helping them to improve coal mine safety.”
Blankenship, who has never admitted to any wrongdoing and never apologized to the families of the workers killed in his mine, was convicted for “conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards.” The explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine was the worst coal mining disaster in 40 years, and was labeled “entirely preventable” by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, which investigated the accident and found that the explosion was caused by “systematic, intentional, and aggressive efforts” to conceal, rather than fix, hazards.