NC Legislators Introduce Bill to Strip State Funds from Massey

Reps Cite Mining Company’s Lax Safety and Environmental Standards

Monday, June 7, 2010

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Rep. Pricey Harrison … North Carolina Legislature (D-57)
919-733-5771 …
Austin Hall … Appalachian Voices … 828-243-3959
Matt Wasson … Appalachian Voices … 828-262-1500
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RALEIGH, NC– North Carolina state representatives have introduced a bill that, if passed, will strip state investments from a coal company responsible for the deaths of 29 miners in April.

Reps. Pricey Harrison, Paul Luebke, Susan Fisher and Earl Jones recently introduced a bill into the General Assembly that would mandate the divestiture of state funds from Massey Energy. The Richmond Va.-based coal mining company has come under intense public scrutiny for an explosion at its Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, W.Va that left 29 American miners dead. The disaster was the worst of its kind to occur in the United States within the last 40 years.

“Massey Energy Company is a rogue corporation that puts company profits before the safety of miners,” said primary bill sponsor Pricey Harrison of Greensboro, N.C. “North Carolina has no business investing state funds in a corporation that routinely places its workers at risk and has absolutely no regard for environmental protection.”

Earlier this month, North Carolina State Treasurer Janet Cowell and a coalition of institutional investors urged Massey shareholders to withhold votes from the three board of director members responsible for mining safety in the company. All three were re-elected.
“Massey Energy has an extensive history of persistent and serious safety violations,” said Treasurer Cowell, who oversees the state retirement system. “Ultimately, that has consequences for long-term shareholder value.”

North Carolina owns 385,000 shares of Massey Energy stock, currently valued at approximately $12 million. Massey stock lost $975 million in value following the April 5 tragedy.

“Maintaining our current investment locks North Carolina into Massey’s negligent behavior, which has cost the lives of American miners,” said Austin Hall, Field Organizer for the regional non-profit organization Appalachian Voices. “This company’s deplorable safety and environmental standards fly in the face of our state’s hard-earned reputation for safe workplaces and environmental stewardship.”

Massey’s environmental record has also come under scrutiny in the past. In 2008, the company paid out the largest financial settlement in the 38-year history of the Clean Water Act, totaling $20 million for 1,500 violations.

Massey Energy is the largest mountaintop removal coal mining company in the country. This radical form of strip mining has destroyed 500 mountains and buried or impaired over 2000 miles of headwater streams in the Appalachian mountain range.


Rep. Pricey Harrison will hold a press conference on Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. in the State Legislature building, Press Room LB in Raleigh, N.C. Interviews available upon request.