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Posts Tagged ‘Upper Big Branch Mine’

FBI Investigating Fed Officials And Massey Energy Over Possibly Bribery

AP/The Huffington Post First Posted: 04-30-10 11:19 AM   |   Updated: 04-30-10 11:40 AM

NPR News reports that the FBI is investigating the possible bribery of federal officials overseeing mining industry regulation by Massey Energy, the owner of the Upper Big Branch mine that exploded three weeks ago, killing 29 miners.

“The Mine Safety and Health Administration is the target of a federal criminal investigation,” NPR notes, and “FBI agents are also exploring potential criminal negligence on the part of Massey Energy.”

The nation’s top mine safety official told lawmakers earlier this week that the government will start going directly to federal court to shut down mines that make a habit of ignoring safety.

Joe Main, director of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, said his agency has had the power to seek federal injunctions for years, but has never tried to use it.

“I can’t speak for past administrations,” Main said during the Senate’s first hearing on the accident that killed 29 men. “We’re going to use it.”

Main also called for a slew of other legal and regulatory reforms to beef up safety enforcement in the wake of this month’s deadly explosion at a mine in West Virginia.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee convened the hearing to look at weaknesses in current laws that encourage mine operators and companies in other industries to challenge safety violations to delay stiffer penalties.

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Don Blankenship: Investors, Politicians Begin Calling For Massey Head To Resign

First Posted: 04-12-10 07:18 PM   |   Updated: 04-12-10 08:28 PM

The calls to oust Massey Energy Company Chairman and CEO Don Blankenship began in earnest Monday, with members of both the private and public sectors getting involved.

The CtW Investment Group sent a letter to Massey’s board of directors Monday afternoon demanding Blankenship’s resignation in the wake of the disastrous explosion at the company’s Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia.

CtW had previously warned the board that its minimal oversight over Blankenship’s regime exposed Massey and its shareholders to “unnecessary legal, regulatory, and reputational risks” — apparently vindicated in that judgment, the investment group deems the Upper Big Branch disaster a “tragic consequence” of Blankenship’s “confrontational approach to regulatory compliance.”

He’s not fond of investigative reporters, either. Check out his reaction to an ABC News camera crew at about the one-minute mark:

Earlier Monday, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli likewise called for Blankenship’s resignation. And DiNapoli is no idle politico: As the sole trustee of New York’s Common Retirement Fund, he has direct control over some 303,550 shares of Massey stock, valued at $14.1 million.

(more…)

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