Environment
9:00 am
Tue November 13, 2012

What's Former Coal Exec Don Blankenship Up To in Kentucky?

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is back on the radar, but apparently not currently seeking any coal mining permits in Kentucky.

Blankenship was in charge of Massey Energy during the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, where 29 workers were killed. Upper Big Branch was operated by Performance Coal, a Massey subsidiary. At the end of that year he retired with a very generous retirement package. But that deal also included a two-year non-compete clause, which expires on December 31.

Blankenship was back in the news last year, when documents filed with the Kentucky Secretary of State showed he had started a new coal company: McCoy Coal Group. He gave $300,000 over three years to Marshall University for medical school scholarships. As Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette reported last month, Blankenship also launched a new website where he lauds himself as an “American competitionist.” He's also apparently launched a site called Save The Country. Blankenship links to it from his page, and the group's mission statement has his signature--literally--on it.

Blankenship’s Twitter account—dormant since September 2010—has two recent posts: one about President Obama and one about the fiscal cliff. And a search on the Secretary of State’s website shows that Blankenship also has numerous active business partnerships in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Secretary of State has Blankenship listed as the president of ten active partnerships. Half of those were renewed this year, with names like Diamanique Partners, Sunlight Partners and Monopoly Partners. All are based at the same address in Phelps, Kentucky-- right over the West Virginia line near Blankenship’s home in Mingo County, WV and only five miles away from Blankenship’s birthplace in Delorme, WV.

Blankenship is also listed as an officer in five Kentucky-registered corporations:

  • The McCoy Coal Group (the existence of which was widely reported in the media a year ago);
  • Number 23, Inc., which appears to be a company supporting his son, John Blankenship’s, dirt track car racing career;
  • Concept Lodging—where Blankenship is vice president and Booth Energy's Jim Booth is president);
  • Beulah Flying, LLC; and
  • JMB Holdings.

All of these corporations are active, and annual reports were filed this year, and all but Concept Lodging are based in Belfry, Kentucky—right over the West Virginia line near Blankenship’s home in Mingo County, WV.

What Blankenship doesn’t have are any pending permits with the state Division of Natural Resources. As of October 23, public information officer Linda Potter says there are no pending or issued permits for Blankenship’s partnerships.