U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) issued the following statement to the families of those miners who lost their lives in the tragedy at Upper Big Branch upon the release from custody of former Massey Energy chief executive Don Blankenship, after serving just one year for conspiracy to break safety regulations at the Upper Big Branch mine, which resulted in the death of 29 coal miners.
“Don Blankenship doesn’t have to answer to me and he doesn’t have to answer to federal authorities anymore, but he does have to answer to the loved ones of the miners who died in his mine for the rest of his life. His refusal to accept responsibility for his criminal actions even now only exacerbates these grieving families’ pain. The families of the fallen 29 brave miners deserve better, so I hope that Mr. Blankenship chooses to do the right thing and disappear from the public eye.”
“In the meantime, I will continue to work every day to ensure that a tragedy like Upper Big Branch never happens again. I introduced legislation that would increase penalties on coal company executives who fail to provide a safe work environment and put the health and lives of our miners at risk. Our miners helped build this nation. They should leave their homes every morning knowing they will return to their families every night. I encourage Congress to take up and pass this commonsense legislation as soon as possible.”