Upper Big Branch

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has pleaded not guilty to federal charges in a mine safety case.

Blankenship entered his plea on Tuesday at an arraignment hearing in U.S. District Court in Beckley. The hearing was based on a new, superseding indictment handed up earlier this month.

Six weeks before a landmark mine disaster trial, federal prosecutors in West Virginia have added a new allegation to the criminal conspiracy charges lodged against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

A lawyer for five media organizations has urged a federal appeals court to toss out a gag order in former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's criminal case.

Blankenship was CEO when the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia exploded in 2010, killing 29 men. He's charged with conspiring to violate safety and health standards.

The Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, NPR, The Associated Press and other news outlets are appealing U.S. District Judge Irene Berger's gag order in the case. 

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

A judge is upholding most of a gag order in a criminal case against ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who was in charge of the Upper Big Branch mine when it exploded and killed 29 men.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger wrote Wednesday that she needs much of the gag order to keep prospective jurors unbiased.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

  A judge won't let a West Virginia ex-coal baron facing criminal charges head home for the holidays.

A docket entry on Monday shows U.S. District Judge Irene Berger in Beckley denied ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's motion to travel home for the holidays.

During his case, Blankenship's travel is restricted to southern West Virginia, Pike County, Kentucky, and Washington, D.C. Other travel needs judicial approval.

Courtesy of the Meade family

Perfect for your Thanksgiving road-trip: Fifty-one minutes of some great Appalachian stories, including: NPR's mine safety investigation continues. Where is the the mine with the highest delinquent fines in the U.S.? What happens when mines don’t pay their fines? And an update from the Appalachian Project, and how a financial adviser in Johnson City, TN decided to begin recording oral histories across Appalachia. These stories and more, in this week's episode of Inside Appalachia.

Courtesy of the Meade family

Perfect for your Thanksgiving road-trip: Fifty-one minutes of some great Appalachian stories, including: NPR's mine safety investigation continues. Where is the the mine with the highest delinquent fines in the U.S.? What happens when mines don’t pay their fines? And an update from the Appalachian Project, and how a financial adviser in Johnson City, TN decided to begin recording oral histories across Appalachia. These stories and more, in this week's episode of Inside Appalachia.

On West Virginia Morning, Liz McCormick reports on “resource recovery,” a polite way to say how household garbage can be used for fuel.  And Jessica Lilly joins Beth Vorhees to describe the scene at the arraignment of former Massey Energy chief Don Blankenship Thursday in Beckley.

Sketch artist Jesse Corlis

Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship stood with three attorneys as he pleaded not guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Beckley. Blankenship was indicted on charges of conspiring to violate mine safety rules and then lying about it.  Blankenship appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort.   

Families Can't Hide Their Emotions

On West Virginia Morning, Jessica Lilly talks with the father of one of the victims of the Upper Big Branch mine explosion who welcomes the news that former CEO of the company that owned the mine has been indicted.  And Dave Mistich reports from Parkersburg about the posted signs asking people not to give money to panhandlers.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was indicted on four federal charges Thursday. The charges stem from a years-long investigation led by the FBI and the United States Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General into an April 5, 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine owned by Massey that killed 29 miners. 

As The Charleston Gazete's Ken Ward reports, former Massey Enegry CEO Don Blankenship was indicted Thursday on federal charges that he violated mine safety laws at the Upper Big Mine before an April 2010 explosion killed 29 miners. The indictident comes from a years-long investigation from U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin's office in West Virginia's Southern Distict.

msha.gov

The first part of the landmark regulation meant to prevent black lung disease takes effect Friday. This phase is meant to fix regulatory loopholes in the sampling process.


AllVoices.com

  Federal impact inspections at U.S. mines in March resulted in 152 citations and 14 orders.   The Mine Safety and Health Administration conducted the inspections at 10 coal mines and three other mines. Six citations and five failure orders were issued at Peabody Midwest Mining LLC's Francisco underground mine in Gibson County, Indiana. MSHA says a loose coal rib put miners at risk of being hit by falling rock. In addition, combustible coal particles and dust were present on the belt structure and drive motors, power cables and other surfaces. 

Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Four years after an explosion at the Upper Big Branch killed 29 miners and injured two others, an investigation by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin continues to examine the practices of executives at then-owner Massey Energy. The mine’s current operator, Alpha Natural Resources, has established Running Right, a leadership academy focused on empowering miners to address safety concerns.

Four years after 29 miners were killed in an explosion at a Raleigh County mine, Upper Big Branch miners' family members and friends discuss what it takes to change a culture focused on production to one with an emphasis on safety. Sen. Joe Manchin's Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act unanimously passes its first stop on a long road on Capitol Hill, and Todd Snider performs "Stomp and Holler" on the Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Family and friends of the 29 miners killed in the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in 2010 gathered in front of the federal courthouse in Charleston Wednesday demanding answers from the Department of Justice.

"It's been four years," said Sheeren Adkins, who lost her son Jason in the blast. "If they were going to find something, they would have found it by now."

Mine Safety and Health Administration

Friends and families of victims of a West Virginia mine explosion four years ago are meeting to remember their lost loved ones.
 
A gathering for those affected by the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster will take place Wednesday afternoon in front of the federal courthouse in Charleston. Saturday is the four-year anniversary of the explosion that killed 29 miners.

Ellen Smith

Updated Tuesday April 1, 2014 at 9:27 a.m.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin wants the company to pull the entire documentary from the internet, discontinue distribution, and remove all references of the Senator. According to a release, Manchin today sent a letter to Adroit Films, the firm that filmed and produced the Don Blankenship-funded documentary, demanding the company to remove what Manchin is calling "propaganda" from all websites.

Senator Manchin wrote, in part: “Your fraudulent behavior in securing the interview and your misrepresentation of my interview are actionable offenses. I expect you to cease distribution of this film and remove any references to my name, image, and likeness.  Please respond to this letter in writing immediately to confirm what actions you are taking in response to my request.”

The release goes on to say Senator Manchin’s office has repeatedly attempted to contact Adroit Films via phone and email. Adroit did not immediately return our requests for comment.

Updated Monday March 31, 2014 at 5:24 p.m. 

It appears that Adroit Films has pulled the individual interviews recorded for Upper Big Branch: Never Again.

The interviews were available earlier today to watch on YouTube along with the full documentary earlier today.

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship released a documentary today claiming it “looks at what really happened at the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.”

The film, released on YouTube Monday, is titled Upper Big Branch: Never Again, debuted just days before the fourth anniversary of the mining disaster that took lives of 29 miners.

Produced by Adroit Films, the documentary disputes the findings of the Mine Safety and Health Administration following the 2010 accident.

"PBC Judicial Forum"
Rick Neuhoff / Flickr

A former mine boss is asking a federal appeals court to toss out his conviction for his actions at the West Virginia mine where an explosion killed 29 miners in 2010. 

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