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Judge upholds Blankenship's conviction; Murray Energy withdraws appeal


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Judge upholds Blankenship's conviction; Murray Energy withdraws appeal

Federal judge upholds conviction of former coal CEO Don Blankenship

A federal judge upheld former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's misdemeanor conviction on charges of conspiring to violate mine safety laws. U.S. District Judge Irene Berger said in a Jan. 15 filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia that prosecutors' failure to disclose certain evidence during the former executive's trial did not result in prejudice to Blankenship.

Murray Energy backs off appeal of ruling against its coal miner bonus program

Murray Energy Corp. requested the dismissal of a petition for review of a decision it challenged regarding a worker bonus program that federal officials said discouraged workers from reporting safety issues. Murray Energy filed a motion for dismissal Jan. 15 to toss the case ahead of oral arguments scheduled for Jan. 30 before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Bill would mandate 100% of Va. electricity is renewable by 2050

In an effort to double-down on Virginia's clean energy commitment, legislation introduced in the Virginia General Assembly seeks to mandate that 100% of the state's electricity be produced by renewable resources by 2050. House Bill 1526, introduced Jan. 9 in the Virginia House of Delegates, would replace the state's voluntary renewable portfolio standard with mandatory annual benchmarks that would eventually require electricity suppliers to produce 100% of their electricity from renewable sources.

Former Blackjewel CEO says probe into financial transactions broad, unsupported

Former Blackjewel LLC President and CEO Jeff Hoops will provide an in-depth response to the investigation into his financial transactions, which was requested by the company and a committee of its unsecured creditors, by Jan. 21, according to a new court filing. The company asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on Jan. 9 to authorize an investigation into financial transactions involving Hoops and related parties.

House Natural Resources Committee passes abandoned mine reauthorization bill

The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources passed a bill to reauthorize the Abandoned Mine Land trust fund, allowing states to continue collecting a fee from coal mine operators to put toward reclaiming abandoned mine sites. If signed into law, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act Amendments of 2019 would expand funding for states that lack certification to reclaim high-priority areas, according to a Jan. 15 release from U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Penn., who sponsored the bill.

Council votes to phase out coal handling, ends another West Coast export option

Another city council in California took action to limit coal exports off the West Coast by voting to phase out storage and handling of the fuel at an existing terminal. The Richmond City Council in California passed an ordinance Jan. 14 that will phase out some existing uses of coal in the city over three years, Bloomberg News reported.

9th Circuit dismisses youths' climate lawsuit against US federal government

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ordered a lower court to dismiss a case in which a group of young Americans sought to make federal agencies address and limit the impacts of climate change. Two of the three judges on the panel found that while the climate is changing and the government's contribution to climate change was more than just the result of inaction, the court does not have authority to order, design, supervise or implement the request by the youths to have the federal government alter course in a significant way.