(AP) — Ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has never shied from a fight and his toughest one is just beginning, as he goes on trial in the worst U.S. mine disaster in 45 years.
Blankenship's trial starts Thursday with jury selection in federal court in West Virginia.
Blankenship is charged with conspiring to break health and safety requirements in hundreds of violations at Upper Big Branch Mine, which exploded in 2010, killing 29 miners. He's also charged with lying about Massey's safety practices in financial documents.
He faces up to three decades in prison if convicted.
Blankenship rose from a single-mother Appalachian upbringing to make almost $20 million off coal in one year. He battled unions and fought federal environmental and safety standards, which his mines often broke.