Yesterday, the parent company of Massey Energy 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.

The company has just agreed that it is criminally liable in those miners’ deaths, and this is important.  It bolsters our case that Massey should lose its right to exist.

Today, we’re renewing our call on Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden to revoke the corporate charter of Massey Energy.  35,000 people have already signed on.  Join them, by signing up here:

Corporations like Massey are artificial entities, granted a right to exist (a charter) by state governments (Delaware, in this case) — that is, by us, the people.  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 (Alpha Natural Resources*) has now agreed that it is — it should lose its right to exist.

A financial settlement, even for hundreds of millions of dollars, just isn’t enough to prevent corporations like Massey from abusing their enormous power over our lives.  Alpha earned $2.3 billion in the last quarter alone.[1]

Indeed, Wall Street is already celebrating yesterday’s settlement and fine:

The initial response from Wall Street analysts was positive for Alpha Natural Resources.

“It’s an amount of money Alpha can pay,” said Lucas Pipes, vice president and senior coal analyst at Brean Murray, Carret and Company, a research and investment banking firm. “Investors were not sure what the liability could possibly be but now it seems this chapter is coming to an end.”[2]

Not if we can help it.  It’s simply not acceptable for corporations to buy their way out after criminally killing people, any more than it’s acceptable for them to buy control over our government.

Sign on now to urge Delaware Attorney General Biden to revoke Massey’s corporate charter:

We want to thank and acknowledge our partners in this campaign, Appalachian Voices and Rainforest Action Network.

But most of all, thank you!

*: Massey Energy was acquired by Alpha Natural Resources in June.  But it can’t 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.
[1]: “Alpha Natural Resources profit doubles”, Wall Street Journal MarketWatch, Nov. 3, 2011.
[2]: “Mine Owner to Pay $200 Million in Death of 29 Men”, The New York Times News Service, published at Truthout, Dec. 6, 2011.