LEST YOU FORGET: COAL IS STORMING HEAVEN - Patriot Paid $6.5 Million On 1,400 Pollution Violations, Massey Paid $20 Mil On $2.4 Billion Fines



Gov. Joe Manchin returned to the state from a Florida vacaction on a private jet owned by Massey Coal, to become the chief consoler of his second major mine disaster.

Coal companies and the government have long played a game of enforcement, negotiated settlements, disputed claims and lawsuits over thousands and thousands of safety and environmental violations.

WV Government needs the coal money, and the remaining miners need a job.

The sound and fury of politicos over the recent WV mine disaster, where 29 miners lost their lives, will slowly fade, and if history repeats itself, there will be some reforms, but the system will mostly return to business as usual. - Bob Weaver

By Bob Weaver 2006

West Virginia's Patriot Coal Corp. will pay $6.5 million in fines to settle 1,400 violations of the Clean Water Act.

The fines represented more than 22,000 days of violations between January 2003 and December 2007, at mining operations in the Mountain State.

The settlement is the third largest penalty ever paid in a federal water pollution case for discharge permit violations.

Massey Energy, a company with a lengthy record of environmental and safety abuses and a proponent of mountaintop removal, faced $2.4 billion in unpaid pollution fines in a lawsuit alleging it violated the federal Clean Water Act.

The violations happened thousands of times in both West Virginia and Kentucky.

The suit maintained Massey had about 69,000 days' worth of Clean Water Act violations.

In April, 2008, a federal judge approved a deal that required Massey Energy to pay a record $20 million fine to resolve thousands and thousands of alleged unpaid water pollution violations across the Appalachian coalfields.

The federal government stepped in to regulate Massey after the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection consistently failed to hold the company accountable for over 5,000 pollution cases.

The feds found that Massey illegally dumped coal slurry waste, rubble, wastewater and other pollutants into West Virginia and Appalachian waterways.

The giant coal corporation has a long history of appealing or ignoring the citations.

Paying to fight the fines through the court system, or actually paying fines pennies on a dollar, is viewed by the outfits as the price of doing business.

"For seven years the Bush administration allowed the coal industry to have its way with West Virginia's mountains and communities," said Joe Lovett Attorney with the Appalachian Center for the Economy & the Environment.

Additionally, Massey has one of the worst safety records in the nation.

Few Mountaineers get riled over the coal corporations storming their heaven, fearful more jobs will be lost.