Coal baron Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy, perhaps perturbed by the recent opprobrium received by BP CEO Tony Hayward, wants to remind us that he is still the most evil man in America. The explosion of the Blankenship’s Upper Big Branch mine after deliberate safety violations killed 29 miners in the worst coal disaster in 40 years, but the news was overshadowed by BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion weeks later. Massey Energy is the leading practitioner of mountaintop removal mining, which has led to ecological catastrophe in four Appalachian states, but BP’s blowout hit four states and the Gulf of Mexico.
In an interview with the New York Times, Blankenship argued that climate scientists are clinically insane, blowing up mountains doesn’t harm the environment, renewable energy and over-regulation caused the Bush recession, and critics of his social Darwinism are really just socialists. Up is down in Blankenship’s world: destroying mountains for their coal helps the environment while environmentalists harm the environment.
Blankenship’s words of wisdom on mountaintop removal:
“When the job is finished and reclaimed and revegetated, I think it would be hard to argue any meaningful or extensive damage to the environment.”
“Surface mining provides the funding to make improvements in people’s lives. And that is more important than the small afterdamage of the environment, if you can say that is even damage.”
Blankenship’s words of wisdom on global warming:
Anyone who says they can tell you the temperature of the earth in a hundred years, you should put a straitjacket on them. They don’t have any idea. It’s almost humorous that a country that can’t predict its budget deficit in a year could predict the temperature in a hundred years. The problem with the world’s climate is that it’s impacted by a lot of things. We all know that.
Blankenship’s philosophy of life — the power of denial:
It’s good to be villainized by people who don’t understand and that are wrong. United Mine Workers was a long time the most violent union in America, they committed violence against us, and we beat them, we wouldn’t expect them to like us. Some people believe in CO2 so strongly it trumps every other thought that they’ve got, so we wouldn’t expect them to favor coal mining. Some people believe that the country should be socialized so they are opposed to free enterprise. I mean, you have to have your own beliefs, your own core beliefs, your own strengths and do what you think is right. You can’t do what others believe is right, you have to do what you believe is right.
“There has to be pragmatism in what we do,” Blankenship argues, where “pragmatism” means denying the reality of anything that prevents him from destroying the planet and others’ lives for cash.