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Expropriation is a Good Answer to This Problem

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Coal billionaires are the best people:

Coal mines owned by billionaire James Justice II have been cited for more than 250 environmental violations in five states with unpaid penalties worth about $2 million, according to sources and records obtained by Greenwire.

Violation notices — including many cessation orders — from the federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and state regulators have been issued for Justice mines in Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, records show.

Justice, a coal baron whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at $1.6 billion, also owns West Virginia’s storied Greenbrier Resort. He sold many of his mines in 2009 to Russian steel and mining giant Mechel OAO. “The coal business is terrible,” Justice told the Associated Press last year. “It’s just terrible, and we’re doing everything in our power to stay open.”

I’m sure that even if the government can get the $2 million out of Justice’s blood-stained hands, it will really stop him from committing more violations, given that the equivalent is for the government to fine me a penny for something. Justice lights more money than that on fire for the hell of it.

But this is just great:

He’s not without support in Appalachia.

“Sure, he’s had some help from the state with tax credits and partnerships. Sure, some have raised questions about some of Justice’s companies’ practices, late payments, regulatory fines and the like,” said an editorial in the Charleston Daily Mail.

“Yet, while many talk of diversifying the state’s economy in the face of market and regulatory setbacks for the coal industry, Jim Justice and company are doing something about it. They are bringing investments and tourism dollars that are rarely, if ever, seen at that level in southern West Virginia.”

So someone tell me–what precisely is this tourist money the coal industry is bringing to West Virginia. The state does bring in plenty of tourists–to play in the beautiful mountains. I don’t recall the mountaintop removal operations replacing those mountains as a real generator of outdoor activity or fun. I guess there could be a new game called “Who Can Drink the Most Cadmium Tainted Water” the kids are playing these days.

Sure, he’s shortening people’s lives. Sure, he’s polluting the land and serving as a geologic agent reshaping the region. Sure, he’s the son of Satan. But he has money so the Charleston Daily Mail is going to support him to the bitter end.

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  • Linnaeus

    James Justice II

    Ha. Good one.

    • DC Comics villain if ever I heard one.

    • Mike G

      He thought changing his name to “Reagan J. Freedom” would be too subtle.

  • joe from Lowell

    Totally OT, Eric: are you seeing anything about the Market Basket walkout and boycott?

    • efgoldman

      All he’s got to do is click the Globe. Consumerist had a pretty good explainer, too.

    • Yes, Malaclypse brought it to my attention a few days ago. I have been remiss in talking about it. Will try to take care of that tomorrow.

    • Malaclypse

      I thought this take was interesting, but I don’t know enough about the history here.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Yes, very interesting.

        The fliers at my local Market Basket say to email Felicia Thorton and Jim Gooch to ask them to reinstate Art Demoulas as CEO. But if Jim Gooch is the new CEO, I’m not sure how much good that’s going to do.

  • Warren Terra

    “I’m sure that even if” s/b “I’m not sure that even if”, or something stronger.

    PS is anyone else having to log in again every 48 hours or so in order to comment? It’s no crippling hardship (Chrome remembers my password, if nothing else), but it’s mildly vexing.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      re: logging in- not sure if the pattern is the same (imagine it is) but yeah. i don’t mind- it seems to be a more than fair trade for less trolling (though I don’t know what became of the peta thread)

    • No, neither on laptop nor iPrecious. Related to the browser, maybe?

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        firefox here

        • I’m on Safari, which I normally regard as something of a pain in the ass.

          • Lee Rudolph

            Serfin’ Safari!

    • Linnaeus

      Yeah, I’ve had to re-log in after a period of time. Mildly inconvenient, but I can live with it.

    • DrDick

      Not for me on a PC using Firefox.

      • cpinva

        nor me on PC using explorer.

  • Mike G

    Economic Stockholm Syndrome.
    The serf mentality.

    • postmodulator

      It’s rational behavior. Plutocrats have inflicted economic damage on people they perceive as critics or threats before.

      • erick

        Yeah, but this isn’t like Boeing moving their factory if they don’t get a tax break, he can’t move the coal

      • grouchomarxist

        Frank Hackett: Two billion dollars is not pique! That’s the Wrath of God!

    • efgoldman

      The serf mentality.

      Serfing USA!

    • Ken

      Stockholm Syndrome, or Battered Wife Syndrome? I’m leaning toward the latter, since the coal companies have damaged both people’s lives and the states.

  • Brett

    Don’t you mean “shut it down in favor of cleaner energy” instead of “expropriation”? I’m not confident that any successor would be much better at following environmental laws.

    • That and the government expropriating all his wealth will be fine.

      • DrS

        I have to think there’s some acreage we could let him keep. As long as he had to remain confined on them.

        • cpinva

          sure. maybe one of those no longer active mines, which are currently on fire, and have been for years.

  • efgoldman

    Mr. “Justice” sounds to me like an Appalachia version of Bundy of the Desert.
    “The fees/fines are negligible, I could pay them out of my cigar money, but I’m not going to because… because… because….”

    • Gregor Sansa

      My offer is nothing. Not even the fines, which I’d appreciate if you’d pay for yourself.

  • SP

    1.6 B/2 M = 800
    $0.01 * 800 = $8 = Erik’s net worth
    Surely this blogging business isn’t that bad.

    • The Temporary Name

      Give Erik some credit for the ability to rack up debt.

      • Warren Terra

        Maybe he lives in a house that the bank owns, and will continue to own until he’s paid the mortgage for another decade or two? Maybe he bought a car recently?

        • SP

          Maybe when he’s fined it will be negative. In Soviet Russia, government fine pays you!

      • My net worth is decidedly negative, I assure you.

  • wengler

    I wonder how many people you have to kill with your bare hands to become a coal billionaire in West Virginia? I’m thinking a devil’s dozen.

    • Grumpy

      For some people, it’s not “have to,” it’s “get to.”

  • ragingred

    The tourist dollars they’re referring to are related to the Greenbrier, not his coal operations. He brought an annual PGA golf tournament to the state (the Greenbrier Classic), which attracts a lot of people. They have concerts that coincide with the tournament and have managed to bring some decently big acts (for WV) to the state. Also, right now the New Orleans Saints are training at a newly built training facility at the Greenbrier. The tax credits and whatnot that are also referenced in that editorial are related to the Greenbrier Classic, not coal. The state contributes a significant sum of money to the golf tournament.

  • Davis X. Machina

    Expropriate away. Deus lo vult.

    “The superfluous goods of the rich are necessary to the poor, and when you possess the superfluous you possess what is not yours.” St. Augustine

    • DrDick

      I may have to say something nice about Augustine for a change.

      • Davis X. Machina

        You’d be surprised what a cavalier attitude towards property the Church Fathers had. That Weber fella might have been onto something.

        Augustine’s got his moments. I treasure him for his articulating the idea of the fundamental depravity of mankind, a concept central to politics.

        When in doubt, take the F D of M and the points — Augustine doesn’t always win, but he always covers the spread.

  • dp

    You are obviously discounting his hard work in helping to subsidize his fellow billionaires in the NFL by getting the Saints to have their training camp at Greenbrier.

    http://theadvocate.com/sports/9812170-32/justice-is-served

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