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Massey Energy Tone Deaf on the Anniversary of the Upper Big Branch Mine Explosion

One year ago today, 29 coal miners died in an explosion at a Massey Energy mine in West Virginia. It could have been prevented.


One year ago today, the worst mine explosion in 40 years tore through two miles of the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. Twenty-nine Massey Energy employees were killed.

Despite the fact that the mine had a long history of safety violations (over 3,000 since 1995, and 57 in the month before the explosion alone), and widespread evidence and reporting that the explosion could have been prevented, Massey Chairman Bobby Inman said yesterday that he believed that this was a "natural disaster" that couldn't have been prevented.

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Mines Are Still Super Dangerous (and Big Coal Is Still Making Big PR Gaffes)

A moving tribute to coal miners who have died on the job, brought to you by the industry that killed them.

Remember the Upper Big Branch disaster back in April, when miners died and all of sudden mine safety was a big issue in the media? Well, nine miners have died since then—this despite the public outcry and a federal crackdown that was supposed to increase scrutiny and safety in mines.

The Washington Post ran an incredible, in-depth, and disturbing look at this regulatory failure, accompanied by a powerful, moving slideshow about deceased miners and their families. Though, as Jeff Biggers pointed out, "online readers of the Washington Post today were forced to view a fatuous 'clean coal' ad prior to viewing an extraordinary photo galley on 'Death at American coal mines.'"

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On the West Virginia Coal Mining Tragedy

Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in Montcoal, West Virginia. I'm far too filled up with...

Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in Montcoal, West Virginia. I'm far too filled up with fury and sorrow to put together any real comment, but it seems important here to remind ourselves that these deaths were preventable.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ncinM5tWmIThis is not a place to comment on the environmental impact of coal. This tragedy is about callous corporate greed that put profit above the safety of workers. Jeff Biggers, who has been researching and covering the coal fields for ages, has a lot more to say about how greed is really "What Killed the Miners."We're still learning exactly what happened at the Upper Big Branch mine, but there are some things we do know. We do know that since 1995, there have been over 3,000 safety violations at the Upper Big Branch, which is owned by Massey Energy, and that there were 57 safety violations recorded at the mine last month. We do know that Massey Energy plead guilty to "criminal violations" back in 2006 for a fire at their Aracoma mine in West Virginia that took the lives of two miners. And we know that before that fire, Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship responded internally to safety concerns being raised by overseeing agencies with a now-infamous internal memo that said:

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