Don Blankenship's West Virginia Senate candidacy putting DOJ on trial
The media have not been reporting much about Don Blankenship's candidacy in the Republican primary to run against Joe Manchin for the Senate. He is certainly controversial. He is the former chairman and CEO of Massey Energy Company and has been termed by his critics another "Roy Moore." He has also been dubbed "The Dark Lord of Coal" and served a one-year imprisonment term for a misdemeanor conviction in the wake of the explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine. He has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court. Regardless of the outcome of the election, his appeal will keep him on the front lines of the battle against Big Government.
Upper Big Branch Coal Mine.
The substance of his appeal is that the Obama Justice Department and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MHSA) acted politically and denied him access to exculpatory evidence and destroyed that evidence. That part of his story has gained credence as more details of the "Russian collusion" story are revealed. It is another example of the arrogance of Big Government. He has a TV ad detailing his government enemies that quotes Franklin D. Roosevelt.
A key part of his story is that the MSHA inspectors forced Massey to cut the air flow in the mine in half against the company's own engineers' recommendation. By doing so, they reduced the dilution of the concentration of natural gas in the mine, resulting in a flammable mixture as the gas escaped from a crack in the mine floor. The very next day is when the explosion occurred. Blankenship asserts that that was the real cause of the explosion, not a methane and coal dust scenario put forth by the government. In effect, his point is that it was faulty government regulation that caused the deaths of those 29 coal miners. That is certain to provoke the denizens of "the swamp."
He also claims that the MHSA forced Massey to stop running its scrubbers, which are designed to improve visibility, prevent the dust from getting into the lungs of the miners, and take the dust out of the return airways, reducing the chance of a dust explosion. There is a video that details his technical arguments, available on YouTube, called "Upper Big Branch – Never Again."
Given the ignorance of the "drive-by media," it is unsurprising that they have not given the subject of coal mine safety the attention it deserves. But the coal miners, and voters, of West Virginia are being exposed to these issues that directly affect them.
Blankenship has the support of West Virginians directly involved in the coal industry. Here is a supervisor from the mine who participated in the investigation.
While I have not studied in depth the assertions made by Blankenship, they do seem to be well founded in engineering practice. The complaint echoes that of Kurt Mix, the project engineer who, after the Deepwater Horizon exploded, was assigned to solve the problem. The DOJ prosecuted him, and the website Faces of Lawsuit Abuse featured his story, "Mixed Up: How the Feds Tried to Imprison a Man Who Helped Stop the Gulf Oil Spill."
The common theme from both men is that the Obama administration weaponized the DOJ.
A key point is that Blankenship is not just a one-trick pony; he has both the election and the appeal pending. Regardless of the outcome of the election, he will remain in the public eye because of his appeal. And he has important email evidence of government incompetence and misconduct. The fact that the MSHA forced the miners to reduce the air flow in the mine one day and the explosion occurred the next is significant. The MHSA inspectors did not have engineering degrees; they were more like bureaucrats seeking obedience through punishment. The more violations they wrote, the better they liked it.
That is a trait shared by Robert Mueller; cops in a rural "speed trap"; and cops in Ferguson, Mo. who wrote all sorts of tickets to fund the city coffers.
Here is an excerpt from the Obama DOJ investigation of the riots in Ferguson.
The department found that Ferguson Municipal Court has a pattern or practice of:
Focusing on revenue over public safety, leading to court practices that violate the 14th Amendment's due process and equal protection requirements.
Court practices exacerbating the harm of Ferguson's unconstitutional police practices and imposing particular hardship upon Ferguson's most vulnerable residents, especially upon those living in or near poverty. Minor offenses can generate crippling debts, result in jail time because of an inability to pay and result in the loss of a driver's license, employment, or housing.
Note that the political affiliation of the citizens involved determined the attitude of the Obama DOJ. They supported Democrats and punished Republicans. Now there is a new sheriff in Washington, D.C. West Virginian coal miners, once the explicit target of Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, have a chance to get justice under President Donald Trump. Don Blankenship's appeal can be the vehicle for that victory.