Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has been an outspoken critic of the science behind global warming and the push for climate legislation for decades. As Congress continues to move forward with cap-and-trade legislation, Blankenship says an emissions plan will send jobs overseas and hurt the economy. During today's OnPoint, he gives his take on the Senate's climate debate and explains why he believes the world has entered a period of global cooling. Blankenship, who is also on the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, discusses recent controversy surrounding the chamber's stance on climate legislation and explains why efforts to develop carbon capture and storage technology should be stopped.
Monica Trauzzi: Welcome to the show. I'm Monica Trauzzi. Joining me today is Don Blankenship, chairman and CEO of Massey Energy, the nation's fourth largest coal company. Don, thanks for being here.
Don Blankenship: Thank you for having me.
Monica Trauzzi: Don, you've been using Twitter recently to express some of your thoughts and views on global warming and one of your recent tweets read, "Some fear we are entering a new Ice Age. We must demand that more coal be burned to save the Earth from global cooling." And you have also said flat out that global warming is a hoax. Are you being socially irresponsible by denying the science behind global warming to benefit your company's bottom line?
Don Blankenship: Absolutely not. I really believe that the climate is changing naturally and that the temperature for the last eight or nine years has been cooling and that the Arctic ice has been increasing and that there's a great deal of misunderstanding out there about climate change.
Monica Trauzzi: All right, so let's talk specifically about your contention that the Earth is cooling. The AP recently surveyed statisticians who found that after looking at ground temperature over the last 130 years they would agree that the Earth is actually warming. So, you just pointed out that the Earth has been cooling over eight or nine years. Are you really looking at a micro trend? I mean is the fact that we've been warming over 130 years really the scientific basis for global warming?
Don Blankenship: I'm really looking at the models of the people that claim that the world is warming, that said that the world would warm the past 10 years, and actually seeing global cooling. So, we're seeing a complete discrediting of the models that were produced back in the late '90s.
Monica Trauzzi: Your ideas however go against what the IPCC has found, what the Supreme Court has ruled on. What evidence would it take to convince you that the Earth is warming and that we need to take steps to reduce emissions?
Don Blankenship: Well, it would take true evidence of the temperatures now that we have satellite data and so forth that truly is meaningful and known to be accurate as opposed to records that are probably less than accurate and a lot of data that's missing. But that might convince me of global warming, but to convince me it should be the thing that we're most focused on when we have 1.6 billion people in the world living on less than a dollar a day, without electricity and without potable water and without all of the things that all of us should expect in life, I think the focus on global warming is entirely misplaced right now.
Monica Trauzzi: You say that there isn't enough evidence behind global warming, the idea of global warming. What about the countless number of studies that have been done by very reputable science journals that point to the melting ice caps and other impacts that we're seeing throughout the world as a result of global warming?
Don Blankenship: Well, as you say, there's lots of studies out there. A lot of the studies come to different conclusions for different reasons, but there's also a lot of studies that don't support global warming. So, the very fact that there are different studies, different opinions, different results of the models and so forth disproves it being a scientific fact. And there's so many people that are going to gain from the theory and so much of the cap-and-trade allowances will go to corporations that have multinational interests, that I think there's plenty of reasons to question both the science and the motive.
Monica Trauzzi: Yes and there will be winners and losers when it comes to a cap and trade, but why are there so many companies including members have your industry and the electric utility industry that have come on board with the idea of a cap and trade and the passage of legislation, yet you continue to disprove the science?
Don Blankenship: Well, they have allowances that are being given to every company; all the utilities are sort of, quote, being bought off with allowances. The American public is being kept in the dark about what's going to happen to their power bills and to their jobs. There are just all kinds of reasons for multinational corporations to be in favor of it. They will build windmills in foreign countries and bring them into this country and make a lot of money at it. They will have factories in other countries that are advantage even more so than they are today over American industry. So it's bad for the American worker, but that doesn't mean it's bad for multinational corporations.
Monica Trauzzi: So, your consideration then is not necessarily your company's bottom line, but what's better for the country?
Don Blankenship: It's better for the world and the country. The country is suffering from a regulation session, which means that we, as an industry, can't comply with all the laws and standards and be competitive in a world marketplace. And it's better for the world in that the first thing you have to have to improve quality of life in the world is electricity and one of the least expensive ways to get that electricity is fossil fuels.
Monica Trauzzi: You're on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which has taken a lot of heat recently for its stance on global warming and climate legislation. And the Board of Directors has particularly come under scrutiny. Is it a result of board members like yourself who deny the science behind global warming for why we've seen several companies remove themselves from U.S. Chamber membership?
Don Blankenship: Well, let me correct you first. I don't deny the science behind global warming. I deny that there is any science that supports global warming, which is a different thing entirely. If there was true science I probably wouldn't be denying it, but there's not. Science doesn't necessarily project the future; it just has a physics of fact which this does not. But as far as the chamber, again, a lot of the chamber members are multinational corporations. Some of them are utilities that are being given tremendous allowances. There are all kinds of different corporate interests that are represented in the U.S. Chamber. What is not represented there is the American worker or the American household and that's what's being let down with this cap and trade effort, because there will be a lot of people who benefit, but it won't be Americans.
Monica Trauzzi: Do you think that the U.S. Chamber's stance on climate change is a fair representation of all of the member companies?
Don Blankenship: I don't know if you took a private vote how that would turn out. It would be interesting, but most of the companies in the chamber either benefit from it or are fearful of retaliation if they speak the truth about it. So, it's not a very fair representation of the science or what should be done and, again, the people that are missing there are the regular U.S. families.
Monica Trauzzi: Has chamber president Tom Donahue handled the situation appropriately?
Don Blankenship: I think he's handled as well as he can given all these different interests and different purposes and the fact that the law and the proposed laws change constantly. I don't have any big issue with what Tom's done, but I have a big issue with cap and trade.
Monica Trauzzi: Emissions regulation through a cap and trade is the direction that the U.S. is going in and we might even see legislation passed as early as the first quarter of next year. So, what are you doing at your company to prepare yourselves for possible regulation by the federal government?
Don Blankenship: Well, first of all I don't think cap and trade will pass this year or next. I think that the politicians know that it hurts the average American and the average American, when seeing the result of it, will vote them out of office. As far as what we're doing to prepare, it's unfortunate, but it's similar to what other industries in this country have done to prepare for all the other regulations and laws, which is to look for investment opportunities where you don't have these extreme regulations. So, our skill set of producing coal and producing energy is very much in demand around the world and we'll be prepared to perform those tasks around the world. Asia will grow on the back of fossil fuels. In addition to that, we'll look at natural gas and other opportunities in the U.S.
Monica Trauzzi: And should we continue moving forward with the research and development of carbon capture and storage technology?
Don Blankenship: No, we've already spent billions of dollars on it and that money, if it had been spent on disease prevention and poverty and doing the right thing in this country and around the world, would have done much more for mankind than these studies will do. We'll figure out what we should do for the next generation electricity while we're using this generation of electricity to improve mankind and give more people educational opportunities and give them good nutrition.
Monica Trauzzi: Final question here. Your views are in the minority, but do you believe that there is enough momentum behind what you're saying to sort of slow the progress that we're seeing in the Senate?
Don Blankenship: Yes, I don't think you're going to see much progress in the Senate because I think the American people are tired of 16 million of them being unemployed and the unemployment rate continuing to increase and the trade deficit is getting larger and I think they're seeing through the hoax and the Ponzi scheme of global warming.
Monica Trauzzi: OK, we will end it right there on that note. Thank you for coming on the show.
Don Blankenship: Thank you.
Monica Trauzzi: And thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow.
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