Mine safety violations should be a felony

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The verdict in the trial of former Massey Energy Co. chief executive Don Blankenship likely fell short of pleasing any of those with a keen interest in the trial’s outcome.

Blankenship himself undoubtedly had hoped that he would be acquitted of all charges against him. Federal prosecutors who brought the case were hoping for convictions on all three counts of alleged violations presented to the jury. And most of the family members and friends of the 29 miners who died in the Upper Big Branch explosion in 2010 have indicated they do not believe justice was adequately served by a conviction on only one of the counts against the former CEO, particularly since it carried the lightest penalty.

But those who were hoping for a harsher outcome can take some solace in the fact that the man heading up Massey was brought into a court of law, and the allegations against him were given a thorough airing. And he was held accountable to a degree.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and his team merit plenty of credit for conducting the exhaustive investigation, which lead to four felony convictions against lower-ranking Massey officials, and for pursuing charges against the head of a major corporation…

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