Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Massey Energy & the Upper Big Branch Report

Underground coal mining is dangerous. In some countries, it is illegal. It is not illegal in the United States and the Federal Mine Safety Board has an unblemished record for mediocrity. Much of the energy consumed in this country is generated by burning coal; every time we turn on a light we are implicitly endorsing an industrial process that will inevitably result in the death of coal miners. And yet, the Blankenship case and the investigators’ reports suggest that Massey uniquely poses the problem of being a “criminal enterprise”. Criminal law really fits corporate misconduct badly, as the old saying goes: “A corporation has no body to incarcerate and no soul to save”. The usual remedy is a money fine which, of course, penalizes the passive shareholders who have already lost due to managerial misconduct. So, the problem is – what is the appropriate remedy for corporate crime resulting in death, injury and damage?

Mine Probe Faults Massey (WSJ 5/20/11)

Upper Big Branch Report (by J. Davitt McTeer, et al, May 2011)

May 24, 2011 in accountability , corporate social responsibility  |  2 comments  | 

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Posted by Dennis Sheehy on May 28, 2011 at 1:23 PM
Change the law so the Board and CEO feel an appropriate level of pain in such matters. Any chance of that happening in this century?
Posted by Moe Dubreuil on May 25, 2011 at 6:51 PM
There are plenty of bodies to incarcerate in a corporation, though I wouldn't want to vouch for souls that can be saved in an outfit like Massey energy.
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