• Don Blankenship

Don Blankenship, Round 2: Taxpayers to pay $550,000 for MSHA failures

Updated: May 20, 2019

By Bruce Thompson | AmericanThinker.com

As noted earlier, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship filed a $12-billion defamation suit against multiple media companies and individuals. He based much of his suit on his claim that the federal government, specifically the Obama-era Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), forced his company to use inadequate ventilation of the Upper Big Branch coal mine. Within hours of implementing the MSHA-mandated ventilation plan, there was a natural gas (as distinct from coal bed methane) explosion that killed twenty-nine miners.

While his case moves forward, it is interesting to note that a suit filed by the widow of one of those miners, Carolyn Diana Davis, has been settled by the federal government. SRN News reported:

The widow of a West Virginia coal miner who was among 29 men killed in the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion has settled a lawsuit against the federal government for $550,000.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports Carolyn Diana Davis recently settled the lawsuit that accused the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration of ignoring warning signs at the mine owned at the time by Massey Energy.

In addition to his defamation lawsuit, Blankenship is suing to get his misdemeanor conviction overturned. Mrs. Davis's settlement lends credence to his position.

The key factual piece of evidence in that effort is whether the flammable gas that exploded was coal bed methane or natural gas. Natural gas is mostly methane but also includes other gases such as ethane. Here is a relevant YouTube video showing what MHSA's own data found regarding the gas vented at the Upper Big Branch mine.

Blankenship's Democratic opponent for the West Virginia Senate seat in the 2018 election was Senator Joe Manchin. Pay attention at 1:56, where he says he always "assumed" it was methane gas. It seems that perhaps Sen. Manchin never heard that assume makes an ass out of u and me.

The evidence suggests that the feds are coming around to agree with Blankenship, and it seems that "The Swamp" creatures may have cost 29 miners their lives and the taxpayers $550,000. Widow Davis may be only the first relative of the twenty-nine victims to deserve compensation.

Read more: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2019/04/don_blankenship_round_2_taxpayers_to_pay_550000_for_msha_failures.html#ixzz5kGhPVLMa Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook


Jim1904 • 2 days ago

Words to be feared” I am from the government and I am here to help.”

I have found a lot of incompetent people in the government. They are everywhere and don’t realize they are incompetent.

When you get several together and give them power they are dangerous

MO Pragmatist replying to Jim1904 • 2 days ago

In my experience as a mining engineer in the coal industry for 40+ years, the majority of front-line inspectors and tech support people were always on power trips whenever they arrived at the mine to "help us out", which is one of the 3 biggest lies. Those same MSHA folks couldn't make it in industry or they are slackers only looking for easy money and a gubmint pension.

Bruce Thompson replying to Jim1904 • 2 days ago

You sound as if you might agree with Martin Luther King Jr.

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

dab rack replying to Jim1904 • a day ago

Some associates of my father were denied a permit for an off shore oil well because a 27 year old EPA bureaucrat thought all the oil would leak into the ocean. They did not know how to talk to her without insulting her even though she might not have realized it.

Omen55 replying to Jim1904 • a day ago

Reagan made good use of those words.

Alecto • 2 days ago

This is the only place I have read a word about Blankenship's lawsuit and the MSHA's intentional(?) incompetence which cost miners their lives. We have no functioning Press in this country, only various propaganda faction outlets.

Getting by replying to Alecto • 2 days ago

There were some articles/videos? during his election run on the disaster. From what I've read morons at the EPA were indirectly responsible for the explosion as they forced the mine to comply with dangerous practices which no experienced miners would voluntarily implement. We are the EPA comply or else...from people fresh out of school whose knowledge of mining came from books.

Carey Allison replying to Gettingby • 2 days ago

I don't know the details of the case, but I will offer an observation: If the feds actually agreed to pay a settlement based on the results (consequences) of their actions, those actions (1) must have been really stupid and (2) the stupidity must have been blatant and flagrant, and (3) the situation was so odoriferous that they couldn't suppress the information or rely on some form of. governmental immunity to get the case dismissed.

UnReformedThoughtCriminal replying to Carey Allison • 2 days ago

It also means that they will be paying out a lot more than the $550,000. All the other survivors claims should be just as legitimate and deserving, and they may not settle so cheaply.

sowsear1 replying to UnReformedThoughtCriminal • a day ago

I would say she deserves more than $500K for the loss of her husband, especially when you compare it to Blankenship's $12B suit.

CW in NY • 2 days ago

Fast & Furious was a program designed to increase gun deaths so that people would agree to more gun control in reaction to the carnage. It would not surprise me that someone in the Obama administration deliberately took actions to make coal mining more dangerous so the reaction would be to shut down coal mines. This would not be the first time a leftist caused pain and suffering in order to bring about their desired end state which they believe is "for the greater good".

Carey Allison replying to CW in NY • 2 days ago

To think that Obama would lead an administration involved in "false flag" efforts to increase gun crimes or the likelihood of a mine accident - I'm shocked - shocked, I tell you. On the other hand, you know what it takes to make a good omelet.

tonic replying to CW in NY • 31 minutes ago

Bu George I think you've got it........

the MOST LIKELY explanation for the disaster.

Its also one of the Alinsky Rules for Radicals list.... think about THAT one for a while. The kinyun was a great fan, almost an idle worshipper (meant that...) of the rotter. I studied him too, along with Marx, and found them both to be perverted, corrupt, stupid, dangeorus. Still do all these years later. (that number is so big its scary) ""Work to rule", and "overturning tables) are both tactics to destroy government's funcionality. EPA are masters at that game.

The Avenger loves Winning • 2 days ago

"The evidence suggests that the feds are coming around to agree with Blankenship, and it seems that “The Swamp” creatures may have cost 29 miners their lives and the taxpayers $550,000. Widow Davis may be only the first relative of the twenty-nine victims to deserve compensation." Yes indeed, the "swampers" screw up and all the rest of us pay for it. How about a little responsibility from the idiots who make the rules?

tmbruner • 2 days ago

The Obama administration's stated goal with regard to coal mining was to shut it down. Their zeal in pursuing that goal knew no bounds.

Bruce Thompson • 2 days ago

A quick reader poll.

Would any of you be interested to read how the BP Oil Spill could have been stopped in May 2010 instead of lasting until July 15, 2010?

Would you believe that neither BP nor the government and all its experts figured it out in real time, but Kurt Mix and his team finally did figure it out, which is why he too was maliciously prosecuted by the DOJ?

Does the name, Sally Yates, mean anything to you?


Have you heard that the solution to being arrested in a pre-dawn raid by gun toting agents of the Obama FBI was to get up and go to work while the agents were still sleeping in?

sowsear1 replying to Bruce Thompson • a day ago

As I remember, the BP oil spill was a dirty, dirty scandal... some people made money on the sale of their stocks and Obama made political hay.

Bruce Thompson replying to sowsear1 • a day ago

It is complicated, but the government ordered BP to halt the top kill operation before it succeeded. Their plan was to consider the well killed only after the relief well was completed. The flow of oil stopped on July 15, the well was killed via the "static kill" and cemented by August 4, and the relief well intersected the MC252 well in mid-September.

Meanwhile, the team working on the top of the well had removed the blowout preventer and had taken it ashore leaving the wellhead wide open to the sea. And that was before Labor Day.

To save face, Obama et al insisted that the well would not be safe until the relief well was complete against the evidence provided by its completion. When they finally did break through to the annulus, they found no hydrocarbons, which DESTROYED their theory that the well had blown out due to BP's alleged failure to use enough centralizers.

At trial, they tried to "prove" BP was recklessly negligent because they could have taken a second blowout preventer and stacked it atop the first and then shut in the well in June. No one asked them why Admiral Thad Allen did not simple order BP to do that? He was the National Incident Commander with all the power of government behind him.

That assumes (there is that word again) that the well had integrity. But they fought against BP doing a well integrity test and were desperate to re-open the well to flow, first into the Gulf and then piping it to surface collection where they would take ownership of all that oil for themselves.

There is no question that BP and its contractors (especially Transocean) screwed up. But so did the government. One of the first things they did was fire the head of the MMS.

From the standpoint of "We the People", what we want is BOTH the vast production of American oil and gas from offshore AND better production methods to do that without spills. We all need to learn from the mistakes of the past. To do that, we can't engage in the "legal fictions" and spin that we have been given.

Covering Barack Obama's butt is of ZERO value to us.

His daughter, Malia, was the only person in the White House asking the key question, "Have you plugged the hole yet, Daddy?"

Out of the mouths of babes....

MO Pragmatist • 2 days ago

While Don Blankenship would not be on my favorites list, based on my experience in a 40+year career in underground coal mining and the information presented in the video related to high-pressure gas entry through cracks in the mine floor, that inundation would have overwhelmed any modern mine ventilation system. Methane and natural gas is explosive when it reaches a concentration of 5 to 15% of the atmosphere. All it needs is a high temperature source such as hot metal, an open flame or a spark to set it off. Such a source could come from an oxy/acetylene striker, a hot machinery gearbox or newly cut metal, all of which occur in mines during normal operations. When performing work with these tools, a gas test is done prior to and during the use of the tool. However, with a gas inundation, the tested atmosphere can reach the explosive range so quickly that the people doing the work can't react quickly enough to prevent an explosion. At the point where these two conditions come together, no person, including Mr. Blankenship, could have prevented such an extraordinarily unusual act of this mine explosion from happening.

Bruce Thompson replying to MO Pragmatist • a day ago

You are making an assumption about the volume of the inundation.

The size of the inundation can be calculated by the concentration of natural gas in the ventilation air post-accident.

There is no reason to guess when you can do the measurement.

You seem to be ignoring the observation about the word "assume".

Not that it is decisive, but I have 47 years experience as an engineer.

MO Pragmatist replying to Bruce Thompson • a day ago

The assumption discussed in the article was Senator Manchin's. He assumed that the gas contribution to the UBB explosion was coalbed methane gas, not other natural gas as explained in the linked video. I did no assuming in my comment other than if it was, indeed, a significant inundation of natural gas, not coalbed methane, into the working area through the floor cracks, it could have been a factor in the UBB explosion. I, too, am an engineer with direct experience in underground coal mine ventilation systems and have seen MSHA not approve Ventilation Plans even though the process submitted had worked well for years. MSHA would only approve the plan after the operator included their ideas into the plan. And their ideas were wrong, pure and simple, and caused unintended consequences. I have no direct knowledge of the UBB Mine or its Ventilation Plan and the changes wanted by MSHA. But, no matter the Ventilation Plan, if a natural gas inundation occurred and the quantity of natural gas into the mine's airstream was high enough and near a source of ignition, the Vent Plan, no matter the specifics, would likely not have been sufficient to stop the explosion. Mine's ventilation plans do take into account the usual coalbed methane concentration introduced into the airstream. It does not usually take large natural gas inundation into account when determining the quantity of fresh air required to keep the gas content at a safe level within that airstream.

Bruce Thompson replying to MO Pragmatist • a day ago

Once again, you are speculating about the size of the inundation. How about listening to an expert witness who was there and smelled the ethane and LIVED to tell about it?

And you have admitted your biased against Blankenship when you wrote "Blankenship would not be on my favorites list".

Here is "the last person alive" making his case.


VibeMan • 2 days ago

Sounds like it is the inspectors that might need to be in prison. I won't hold my breath.

Adolphusw • 2 days ago

I think Blankenship will win his suit against the government. It was very much a political trial where he was the target of the government, not the truth of UBB. His prosecution was of the same vein that Warren was ranting about yesterday, holding top company officials criminally liable. She's proposing her "The Corporate Executive Accountability Act". Liberals hate corporations, or at least the ones they can't control and they especially hate it that corporations are treated as "people" with most rights that an individual have.

Blankenship was a dry run and the government did enjoy a great deal of success. Massey was destroyed as a company, Blankenship was somewhat disgraced, although the vast majority of coal miners of the industry side with Blankenship, realizing he was just an Obama target. Blankenship was the leading coal industry critic of Obama and the liberal global warming scam.

Blankenship was found guilty of "conspiracy to willfully violate mine health and safety standards" as a misdemeanor and spent a year in the pen, which is somewhat hilarious in that most mines do that every day. That's why MSHA issues tens of thousands of violations per year and rakes in a couple hundred million dollars in fines. "Willfully" violating mining regulations is not nearly as dastardly as it may sound. Let MSHA inspect your garage with the same zeal some of their inspectors inspect mines and you're probably guilty of "willfully" violating at least a dozen regulations.

Atlasdied • 2 days ago

Regulations and the real world only intersect by accident. Regulations are written by people who have never even vistited a mine, let alone worked there.

orenv • 2 days ago

And lets not forget the mill tailings disaster out west that polluted a river that was also instigated by clueless feds.

Pete • 2 days ago

.... that assume makes an ass out of u and me.


Otis Donkey • 2 days ago

We had heard that msha was hurting because mines were shutting down and they were running out of victims to terrorize and fine, so they were expanding to any endeavor that moved dirt like construction and logging.

This is pure evil.

onthedoss • 2 days ago

These fools do not know their arses from their elbows, but hey they got Ivy League degrees.

tonic replying to onthedoss • 30 minutes ago

SOMEBODY needs to give these rotters the Third Degree..... many of them SHOULD be residents of some nearby Crowbar Hotel

Sherwood 4ust • 2 days ago

Another perfect example of how the administrative state can be detrimental to your health and/or welfare.

YoursInChrist #MAGA#MAGA • a day ago

Blankenship would have made a wonderful senator and majority leader. The libs stole his seat with their liberal lies.

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