(07/30/2005)
"The Don," Massey Energy's CEO Don Blankenship, says his public battle with Gov. Joe Manchin is like two soldiers shooting each other at close range.

"That's sort of what the governor and I did," Blankenship said. "He shut my silo down, and I shot him with this lawsuit."

Blankenship filed a lawsuit the same day the state shut down the company's silos beside Marsh Fork Elementary school.

Blankenship claims the governor illegally retaliated for Blankenship's public opposition to a $5.5 billion pension bond issue.

He said Manchin violated his right to free speech by threatening to selectively enforce laws against him and his business interests.

Gov. Manchin says he had not singled out Massey Energy and its CEO Don Blankenship for special scrutiny after Blankenship opposed him on the pension bond amendment.

Manchin said Blankenship's activity, including spending millions of dollars electing candidates and speaking out over public policy issues, certainly lifts his participation into the public domain and debate.

Blankenship mailed fliers, bought TV and and radio ads against the recent pension imitative brought before the voters.

He also spent millions helping current State Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin get elected.

The state's DEP, after a Charleston reporter pointed out the problem and the 300 foot rule had been violated, discovered Massey had apparently fudged their maps, allowing their silos to be built within feet of the school.

The DEP said they made a mistake in granting the construction of the silos, and have ordered the construction of the latest silo to be removed from the site.


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