Critics Say W. Va. Coal Boss Will Get 'Egregious' Golden Parachute

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Critics among the shareholders and elsewhere, however, have repeatedly charged that compromises were made to achieve that growth. The chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, Rep. George Miller, D - California, called Blankenship's tenure "reckless."

"This unconscionable golden parachute rewards Don Blankenship's reckless leadership rather than helping the 29 families who lost love ones at Upper Big Branch pay the mortgage or help with their children's college tuitions."

Investigators say Don Blankenship's retirement as head of Massey Energy won't interfere with him testifying this month in a state and federal investigation of the nation's worst coal mine disaster since 1970. Blankenship has been subpoenaed to appear in Beckley, West Virginia on Dec. 14 to answer questions about the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine. Other Massey employees have refused to testify, citing their 5th Amendment rights. State mining director C.A. Phillips said Saturday he doesn't see Blankenship's Dec. 31 retirement changing an agreement that he will answer the subpoena. J. Davitt McAteer heads a special investigation into the April 5 explosion. He says the investigation is about the accident, not Blankenship.

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Olstad said shareholders chief concern is how the energy giant will be run moving forward -- whether it will show a genuine commitment to worker safety and to the environment. But he also said he expected some challenge to the retirement package that the board has negotiated with Blankenship.

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