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by Isaac Rosenblatt
Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010 at 10:07 AM
Rainforest Action Network Names Coal Kingpin Don "Donny B" Blankenship to its Board of Directors; A "Welcome, Consistent Addition to Our Team," He Joins Fellow Mining Magnate Michael Klein, a former RAN chairman and co-owner of Palm Beach Aggregates, an aggregate rock mining company with operations in the Everglades in South Florida, where rock mining, like MTR coal mining in Appalachia, pollutes the local water supply.
Rainforest Action Network Names Coal Kingpin Don "Donny B" Blankenship to its Board of Directors; A "Welcome, Consistent Addition to Our Team," He Joins Fellow Mining Magnate Michael Klein
For Immediate Release
Greenwashing Communications Manager
Rainforest Action Network - Environmentalism with chloride and mercury-stained teeth
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) announced this morning that it had named Don "Donny B" Blankenship to its Board of Directors.
Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy, a coal mining company responsible for much of the mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining in Central Appalachia, said that he was "Honored that a group of communist atheists would seek out and are interested in my opinion, feelings, and input." Added Blankenship, "And my and Massey's money, too."
Mountaintop removal, a form of surface mining in which the tops of mountains are blown off to expose the coal underneath and the overburden is deposited in valleys and streams, has devastated communities across Appalachia. RAN had been opposed to MTR and had launched the global finance campaign pressuring banks that finance MTR companies to cut funding to these companies.
The move was widely expected in both the mining and environmental nonprofit-industrial communities, as RAN's board already includes another mining magnate, Michael Klein, a former RAN chairman and co-owner of Palm Beach Aggregates, an aggregate rock mining company with operations in the Everglades in South Florida, where rock mining, like MTR coal mining in Appalachia, pollutes the local water supply. Limestone rock mining is another form of surface mining in which quarries are blasted, which affects the local wildlife and leaves behind toxic chemicals. The blasting opens up the aquifers to contamination and creates deep pits of contaminated water, polluting and threatening the local water supply, such as by contributing to the high chloride levels in local drinking water sources. The practice also threatens the ongoing restoration of the Everglades, whose water flows have been disrupted by decades of canalization.
Greg Boyd, chairman of the board of the National Mining Association and chairman and CEO of Peabody Energy, which is also involved in MTR, stated in an interview, "Klein has been a great liasion between our industry and the environmentalists. He's so good at what he does, I never know whether he's co-opting us or the tree-huggers. Usually, it's the tree-huggers."
Rebecca Tarbotton, executive director of RAN, said that "Don is a welcome, consistent addition to our team." Tarbotton, wearing a green babydoll dress, smoking a cigarette, sporting disheveled hair, and laying next to Blankenship in his bed at his lair overlooking beautiful Williamson, West Virginia, added, "We continue to campaign fearlessly against corporate greed to keep fossil fuels in the ground, keep forests standing and to stop climate change." "Except when that corporate greed is perpetrated by Palm Beach Aggregates, when those forests are located in the Everglades, and when those fossil fuels are Appalachian coal. By the way, we're open to expanding our exceptions. But as we say at the office, you gotta 'Pay to Play'. We're talking to you, Richard (George), Bob (Dudley), Charlie (Charles Koch). Y'all got my number in case y'all change your minds." George, the CEO of SUNCOR, a company involved in tar sands mining, which also causes deforestation and pollutes water sources, said in an interview, "Please tell Becca that the restraining orders against her are still active." Dudley, CEO of BP plc, rolled his eyes and said "Not again...", and Koch, CEO and Chairman of Koch Industries, the private energy conglomerate, told me "tell Becca I already finance RAN, I just do it through third-party independent groups that do not disclose donors' identities."
Margaret Swink, RAN's Communications Manager and laying on the other side of Blankenship, also added, "Rainforest Action Network unreservedly supports the protection of the Everglades."
"Considering that Michael Klein, a profiteer of the Everglades' destruction through Palm Beach Aggregates and a major RAN funder, serves on our Board of Directors, we thought it only appropriate that the destroyer of another bioregion and the representative of another dirty industry should be at the table, too."
"This will compliment our coal campaign very well," Tarbotton concluded.
Michael Klein, the Palm Beach Aggregates rock mining magnate and laying next to Tarbotton while wearing only his pair of green briefs, said "Don and I have a lot in common. Both of us are involved in the poisoning of water sources, both of us are destroying ecosystems, both of us are devastating communities. And both of us love Bette Midler, gelato, and long walks on the beach." Blankenship nodded, as he poured us another round of Cognac.
"As our slogan says, RAN represents 'environmentalism with teeth.' Just not Florida Gator or Appalachian teeth. Chloride and mercury-stained teeth."
An editorial in the Wall Street Journal published shortly afterward sharply criticized the announcement. "If anybody's going to have a deep conflict of interest with polluters, that's going to be us," fumed the editorial.
Steven Leer, CEO of Arch Coal, which also practices mountaintop removal in Appalachia, stated in an interview, "That's really hypocritical on the part of RAN. If you're going to have people like Donny and Mike on your board, both of which are great friends of mine, don't pretend that you're saving the environment. That's why I'm not on the board of any environmental organizations. I just mail my checks to the Energy Action Coalition."
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