(AP) — A key government witness is testifying in the criminal trial of his old boss, ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.
The witness is ex-Performance Coal President Christopher Blanchard. Performance Coal was a subsidiary of Massey Energy.
Blanchard took the stand Thursday.
Blankenship is charged with conspiring to break mine safety laws and lying to financial regulators about safety at Upper Big Branch Mine, which exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.
Blanchard said many safety violations at the mine could have been prevented by hiring more miners, or putting more time toward safety tasks. He said Blankenship could have ordered those changes.
He said he thought Blankenship believed it would cost less to pay violation fines than to implement safety measures.