Massey can’t identify mines it says are at risk from MSHA ventilation plans Blankenship criticized

June 11, 2010 by Ken Ward Jr.

Earlier this week, there was a bit of a media frenzy when Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship sent a letter to West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin and the governors of three other coal states, alleging that miners in those states were in danger because of underground mine ventilation plans imposed by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The letter is pretty blunt, saying in one place:

… Coal miners in your states are less safe because of MSHA-mandated ventilation plans that are currently in place in your states today.

Blankenship also wrote:

Ironically, perhaps the single biggest challenge to achieving safe mining is the current behavior of MSHA.

OK … so on Wednesday, we had Massey general counsel Shane Harvey (right) and company board member Stanley Suboleski (below) in for an interview, and put the question to them: What mines are we talking about? Where exactly are miners in danger because of MSHA’s actions?

As reported in today’s Gazette, Harvey and Suboleski were at a bit of a loss to point to the mines Blankenship was talking about.

I tried earlier to provide some context and perspective on this Blankenship letter in a Coal Tattoo post, and today’s story adds to that context, I hope.

Blankenship has pointed to the case of an Illinois mine operator who challenged a similar MSHA-imposed ventilation plan, but so far the agency has won the legal challenges in that matter.

Unfortunately, MSHA chief Joe Main and the rest of his agency remain kind of in a bunker on this issue, refusing to answer questions or even to simply comment about their victory in the Illinois case …

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