Whitesburg KY
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Jurors hear tapes

A jury heard phone calls Tuesday in which former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship said he sometimes thought that without federal mine regulators, “we’d blow ourselves up,” and that preventing black lung wasn’t worth the effort that regulators put into it.

In U.S. District Court in Charleston, jurors finished listening to the last of 18 recordings Blankenship secretly taped in his Massey office in 2009. The remaining recordings kicked off the second week of trial testimony in Blankenship’s criminal case.

Blankenship is charged with conspiring to break mine safety laws and lying to financial regulators about safety practices at Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, which exploded in 2010, killing 29 miners in the worst mine disaster in four decades.

Blankenship, who was consistently critical of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA, said in one call that sometimes he was “torn about the craziness we do.”

“Maybe if it weren’t for MSHA, we’d blow ourselves up. I don’t know,” Blankenship said in one recorded phone call. “I know MSHA is bad. But I tell you what, we do some dumb things. I don’t know what we would do if we didn’t have them.”

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