Return of the Coal Barons?

The Wall Street Journal has published a front-page profile (reprinted here in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) of Don Blankenship, CEO of Richmond-based Massey Energy Co., who has spent millions of dollars of his own money trying to make West Virginia more business-friendly. With the impetus to raise taxes here in Virginia, I wish he’d be a little more active in his headquarters town.

Truth be told, Blankenship is a West Virginia boy, born and bred, and he spends most of his time in West By God Virginia, where the bulk of Massey’s coal operations are located. Despite its size — revenues exceed $2 billion — the company keeps an incredibly low profile here in Richmond.

Back in the 1970s, SW Virginia coal barons ranked among the largest campaign contributors in the state. When the coal business went bust, they largely dropped out of the picture. With their fortunes reviving — Alpha Natural Resources has assembled a $1.5 billion-a-year enterprise, and the United Company is reconstituting its old coal empire — it may not be long before United’s Jim McGlothlin and Alpha’s Michael Quillen become familiar faces on the political scene once again.

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2 responses to “Return of the Coal Barons?”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    I have long said that the best way to revive nuclear power is to first revive coal.

  2. Are you sure this is not a paid advertisement?

    Be thankful, we don’t have elected judges here in the commonwealth. The last thing we need is another election.

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