Massey Energy is one of the country's largest producers of coal, and has found itself amidst controversy several times in the past few years.
They have come under scrutiny for numerous safety violations in several mines they operate across Appalachia. Even worse than this, their mine was the site of the worst mine disaster in 40 years, the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia.
The CEO at the time of the disaster, Don Blankenshipl, has refused to testify before a committee of Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) investigators about the disaster and the subsequent turmoil afterwards. This is unacceptable.
Michigan State University purchased Massey Energy coal in 2010,
MSU was a customer of Massey Energy Company, therefore financially supporting this company and their destructive nature. If MSU were to stop buying coal produced by Massey Energy, this would send a strong message to the company. Otherwise, by continuing to purchase coal from Massey they are not denouncing the hazardous practices of the company and instead are nearly endorsing it.
Targeting Massey Directly Hasn't Been Effective
Massey Energy has failed to respond to our pleas to have the former CEO, Don Blankenship, testify before a MSHA committee. They continue to ignore requests from concerned citizens to bring justice to the mine disaster. Massey also continues to operate Mountaintop Removal sites, which are incredibly destructive to the environment.
A student movement has already been started to ween MSU off coal.
Students at Michigan State have already started a movement in protest of a large coal plant on campus, the T.B. Simon coal powered electric production facility. This shows that a movement away from coal is alive and well, and the potential for MSU to stop buying Massey coal is heightened.
By refusing to buy Massey coal, MSU can send a strong message to Massey and the coal industry in general: Destructive business practices, environmental negligence, and refusal to accept responsibility is intolerable. A respectable learning institution like Michigan State has a moral responsibility to contribute to the solution, not the problem. Continuing to buy coal from Massey Energy only contributes to the ongoing problem.
(Photo credit: Lovelac7 via Wikimedia Commons)