Letter to the Editor: Time to upgrade the coal industry

By The West Virginia Record | Oct 26, 2006

Dear Editor:

Don Blankenship wrote that "It's Time to Upgrade our Government."

West Virginia, it's time to upgrade the coal industry. As an engineer with over 20 years experience working in the manufacturing industry, I can say that I have never seen an industry which operates with such outdated, antiquated 1950s management concepts as coal companies like Blankenship's Massey Energy.

Nearly all the major Fortune 500 corporations have long realized that compliance with modern safety and environmental regulations is the most profitable way to operate their businesses. Instead of disasters and huge environmental cleanup costs, modern, well-run industries take a preventative approach to pollution and safety problems, such as the highly successful "Pollution Prevention Pays" concept pioneered by 3M Corp.

Massey, on the other hands, achieves its dismal profits by threatening lawsuits, bullying, intimidating and buying elections. Despite the current high prices being paid for coal, Massey shareholders and stock analysts are starting to revolt against Massey management, while Blankenship is distracted by his political crusades against drunk drivers, Harman Mining and house servants who get the wrong kind of breakfast biscuits at McDonalds.

Massey's biggest environmental disaster, the Oct. 2000 spill of 300 million gallons of coal sludge in my home state of Kentucky, cost Blankenship's corporation dearly. This spill could have been easily prevented, but instead cleanup costs exceeded $50 million, and negative publicity from the spill continues to give a huge black eye to the entire coal industry.

Clean up government, Mr. Blankenship? Time to remove the moat from your own eye.

Dave Cooper
Lexington, Ky.

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