Trump should say no to Blankenship
Consider the source, Mr. President. Then just say no.
That may be the best advice President Donald Trump could get regarding a letter sent to him by former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.
Blankenship spent a year in prison after being convicted of conspiring to violate federal mine safety laws. He was charged after the 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine in southern West Virginia.
Now, he is asking the president for two things:
First, Blankenship wants the federal investigation into the disaster to be re-examined. That may not be a bad idea. Taking another look at a disaster of the magnitude of Upper Big Branch may provide new information that could prevent similar tragedies in the future.
But Blankenship also is asking the president to resist calls from some in Congress for enhancing criminal penalties against coal executives who violate safety and health standards.
Perhaps Blankenship thinks he will have a sympathetic ear from this president. After all, Trump has vowed to roll back unnecessary federal regulations.
Indeed, taking another look at the Mine Safety and Health Administration may not be a bad idea, either. The agency should be focused on serious threats to miners’ safety, not on trivial infractions.
Running a mine where safety shortcuts are demanded of workers is not trivial, however. Coal executives guilty of putting production ahead of safety deserve harsh punishment.
Trump has proven himself to be a friend to coal miners in West Virginia, Ohio and elsewhere. He seems to be doing all in his power to ensure they do not lose their jobs because of excessive, unnecessary government regulations.
He also should ensure they do not lose their lives because of greedy coal company executives.