By Bruce Thompson
April 6, 2019 - As noted earlier on AT, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship filed a $12-billion defamation suit against multiple media companies and individuals. He based much of his suit on his claim that the federal government, specifically the Obama-era Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), forced his company to use inadequate ventilation of the Upper Big Branch coal mine. Within hours of implementing the MSHA-mandated ventilation plan, there was a natural gas (as distinct from coal bed methane) explosion that killed twenty-nine miners.
While his case moves forward, it is interesting to note that a suit filed by the widow of one of those miners, Carolyn Diana Davis, has been settled by the federal government. SRN News reported:
The widow of a West Virginia coal miner who was among 29 men killed in the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion has settled a lawsuit against the federal government for $550,000.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports Carolyn Diana Davis recently settled the lawsuit that accused the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration of ignoring warning signs at the mine owned at the time by Massey Energy.
In addition to his defamation lawsuit, Blankenship is suing to get his misdemeanor conviction overturned. Mrs. Davis's settlement lends credence to his position.
The key factual piece of evidence in that effort is whether the flammable gas that exploded was coal bed methane or natural gas. Natural gas is mostly methane but also includes other gases such as ethane. Here is a relevant YouTube video showing what MHSA's own data found regarding the gas vented at the Upper Big Branch mine.
Blankenship's Democratic opponent for the West Virginia Senate seat in the 2018 election was Senator Joe Manchin. Pay attention at 1:56, where he says he always "assumed" it was methane gas. It seems that perhaps Sen. Manchin never heard that assume makes an ass out of u and me.
The evidence suggests that the feds are coming around to agree with Blankenship, and it seems that "The Swamp" creatures may have cost 29 miners their lives and the taxpayers $550,000. Widow Davis may be only the first relative of the twenty-nine victims to deserve compensation.