US Labor Secretary responds to sentencing of ex-coal operator Blankenship

DOL News Statement: [4/6/2016]

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez issued the following statement about today’s sentencing of former Massey Energy Chief Executive Officer Donald Blankenship:

“This sentence proves that no mine operator is above the law, and should send a strong signal to unscrupulous employers that skirt safety rules. No prison sentence and no amount of money can bring back the 29 men who lost their lives at Upper Big Branch, but my sincere hope is that this sentence can offer some measure of closure for the families of those miners.

“That said this is a clear case of the punishment not fitting the crime. This sentence is the maximum allowable under the law, but regrettably, the criminal provisions of the Mine Act are far too weak to truly hold accountable those who put miners’ lives at risk. This administration continues to support efforts in Congress to strengthen those penalties, and we stand ready to work with members who believe that no worker should lose their life for a paycheck.”

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Media Contacts:

Jesse Lawder, 202-693-4659,

Amy Louviere, 202-693-9423,

Release Number: 16-739-NAT