Coal CEO calls environmentalists crazy

By scott parkin

This is too much. Don Blankenship and Massey Energy are the poster children for mountaintop removal. They not only wreck the planet by selling the coal they mine to be burned, but wreck Appalachian communities and landscape in extracting it. It’s a pretty horrible process and this guy labels us as the crazy ones?

My favorite line in this article is “The greeniacs are taking over the world.

Coal CEO calls environmentalists crazy

Saturday, November 22, 2008 10:12 AM EST
Staff Writer

Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy, the fourth largest coal company in the country, blasted politics and the press, comparing Charleston Gazette Editor James. A. Haught to Osama Bin Laden Thursday evening when he addressed the Tug Valley Mining Institute in Williamson.

“It is as great a pleasure for me to be criticized by the communists and the atheists of the Charleston Gazette as to be applauded by my best friends,” he said. “Because I know they are wrong. People are cowering away from being criticized by people that are our enemies. Would we be upset if Osama Bin Laden was critical of us?” he asked.

“Totally wrong. Nonsense. Absolutely crazy.”

Those are the words Blankenship used to describe Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as well as environmental groups. He said he felt simple terms were the only ones the country could understand, that more sophisticated language was over the head of the general public.

“When we talk about it in more articulate ways, the American public doesn’t get it,” he said.

Blankenship told the crowd, which overflowed the room, spilling over to fill the Brass Tree Restaurant, that coal is getting a lot of undeserved bad press. The coal business, he said, needs to start standing up for itself in the face of the negative image being portrayed by politicians, special interests and the press.

Blankenship said the business community should put their business interests first, not environmental interests.

“They can say what they want about climate change,” he said. “But the only thing melting in this country that matters is our financial system and our economy.”

“The business community doesn’t want to lose any skin,” he said, referring to the skinned knees he sustained playing football as a boy. “Being scratched up is not so bad, but the political elite are so comfortable that they think their mission in life now is to save the world.”

Many people would give support to groups who work to disprove global warming if it was not so politically incorrect, Blankenship said.

“How many times have the people in this room heard, at the US Chamber of Commerce or at the National Mining Association, ‘I don’t believe in climate change, but I’m afraid to say that because it is a political reality.’ The greeniacs are taking over the world.”

Blankenship said politicians misrepresent facts when it comes to the environment. “Politicians occasionally trip over the truth,” he said, “but they get up and go on as if nothing happened.” He said the amount of pollution produced by American coal is negligible compared to the environmental damage done by other countries.

“Its nonsensical, its idiotic. And yet, we call it two different sides, partisan, Democrat or Republican,” he said. “If Pelosi thinks that decreasing CO2 in this country is going to save the polar bears, she’s crazy. If CO2 emissions are going to kill the polar bears, it’s going to happen. What we do here [in the US] is not going to it.”

Blankenship said he realizes the environment is a concern, but that it is only part of the picture.

“I talk a lot about the total environment,” he said. “Yes, we need to breathe clean air and have fresh water in the streams. We need to have trees and all that, but we need to be able to send out children to school. That’s a total environment.

“Most people wouldn’t believe that coal is the most important thing to the environment.”

But coal produces electricity, he argued, and that improves the quality of life. “Anywhere you go, low cost electricity, the creation of energy, of jobs, of an economy, ultimately leads to an improvement in the environment. There is no place in the world that has a good environment where people live on two dollars a day with no electricity,” he said. “If you are really believe that the world is going to overheat from the use of carbon, then whatever you do in the United States to reduce carbon emissions is wrong, because all that it will do is increase CO2 emissions in China. All the things the environmentalists told us were important, sulfur and particulates, everything they have talked about and badgered this industry about are still being polluted throughout most of the world without any controls.”

Blankenship said the industry needs to be as outspoken as those who oppose the use of carbon fuels.

“Its not only important for the greeniacs and environmentalists to change their views, but there is also a real need for business people to change their views. We have to challenge everything, and we need to get more bold. When business people act like politicians instead of expressing what the truth is, we will have people making decisions on what they call political reality.”

Blankenship said energy policies put forth by the government have not worked in the past, and they are not the answer to today’s energy crisis. He shared a video clip of then President Jimmy Carter encouraging measures such as conserving heating fuel, carpooling, using public transportation and avoiding unnecessary car trips.

“Jimmy Carter understood that there was a risk if we increased our dependence on foreign oil,” Blankenship said. “But did it not sound similar to Obama? Turn down your thermostats? Buy a smaller car? Conserve? I have spent quite a bit of time in Russia and China, and that’s the first stage. You go from having your own car to carpooling to riding the bus to mass transit. You eventually get to where you’re walking. You go from your own apartment and bathroom to sharing kitchens with four families. That’s what socialism and the elimination of capitalism and free enterprise is all about.”

“Massey is working hard to come up with soundbites or what sort of messages might resonant publicly. Unless we get people to think positively about coal, we are in trouble not only as an industry, but also as a country.”

“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that, if you have that much energy in the ground, you shouldn’t have thousands of troops in Iraq, spending $10 billion a month, you shouldn’t by trying to patrol the world. Let the world fight over the oil. Liquify the coal.”

“Coal has to be important,” Blankenship said. “We have to stand up for coal and for energy independence. Sooner or later, we are going to have to start saying something, because if we don’t, the other side is going to start taking over.”