Reckoning in Appalachia: Why Coal Mining Outlaw Don Blankenship’s Conviction Matters – by Jeff Biggers (Huffington Post – December 3, 2015)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

The landmark conviction of former Massey Energy CEO and coal baron Don Blankenship today on a misdemeanor conspiracy charge to violate mine safety laws is a small, but historic first step in holding mining outlaws accountable for their reckless operations.

For the first time in memory for those of us with friends, family, miners and loved ones living amid the toxic fallout of the coal industry, this conviction may only serve as a tiny reckoning of our nation’s complacency with a continual state of violations, but it could begin a new era of justice and reconciliation in the devastated coal mining communities in Appalachia and around the nation.

With the most serious charges dropped, Blankenship’s misdemeanor charge only carries up to one year in prison.

Meanwhile, the trauma of loss for the Upper Big Branch mining families will endure among generations of families.

The tragedy of spiraling black lung disease among coal miners will continue, notably part of the autopsies among 71 percent of the miners lost in the Upper Big Branch disaster.

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