Yesterday, Alpha Natural Resources, the parent company of the Massey Energy coal company, agreed to pay $209 million in criminal penalties, civil penalties, and compensation to the families of the 29 miners who were killed when its Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia exploded on April 5, 2010. The company was also fined an additional $10.8 million yesterday by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration -- the largest fine in that agency’s history.
With this admission by the company of criminal liability in those miners’ deaths, we renew our call today on Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden to revoke the corporate charter of Massey Energy.
Corporations like Massey are artificial entities, granted a right to exist by we the people through our state corporate charter laws. Just as surely as we grant that right, we can also revoke it.
When a corporation is criminally responsible for killing people -- as Massey’s parent company has now agreed that it is -- it should lose its right to exist.
Massey Energy was acquired by Alpha Natural Resources in June 2011. But it cannot merge its way out of responsibility for its actions. Massey still maintains its own charter in Delaware and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alpha.
A financial settlement, even for hundreds of millions of dollars, is just not enough to prevent corporations like Massey from abusing their enormous power over our lives. Alpha earned $2.3 billion in the last quarter alone.
It is simply not acceptable for corporations to buy their way out after criminally killing people, any more than it is acceptable for them to buy control over our government.
We urge Attorney General Biden to initiate charter revocation proceedings against Massey Energy.
: "Alpha Natural Resources profit doubles", Wall Street Journal MarketWatch, Nov. 3, 2011.
Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org