Coal Tattoo

Breaking news: Gee resigns from Massey board

osu-gee.jpgMassey Energy Co. has announced that E. Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State University, has resigned from the coal company’s board of directors. The move comes as Gee faced growing pressure from environmentalists (and from OSU students) to break his ties with the controversial coal giant.

According to the Massey release, Gee said this in a letter to Massey CEO Don Blankenship:

My service on the Massey Board has provided me with a unique perspective to learn the problems and opportunities facing the nation’s energy sector. It has also given me the opportunity to work with people, both within the company, and on the Board, whom I appreciate and admire.

Blankenship responded:

…That Gee brought an important quality to the Massey board that is made up of a significant cross section of opinions on the important issues facing American energy producers today. “Coal is an essential, abundant American resource that keeps the national power grid humming,” Blankenship said. “We will certainly miss Gordon, who was a dynamic force in the free and open debate at our board meetings on our role as a major American energy force and how we can serve our nation.”

I’ve written before (see here and here) about efforts to urge Gee to quit the Massey board post that paid him more than $200,000 a year.   There was also an editorial just yesterday in the Toledo Blade that concluded:

There’s no question but that Mr. Gee talks the talk on environmental issues. But the public face of OSU should walk the walk as well. Mr. Gee should either tell Ohioans what he has done in eight years on the board to clean up Massey’s abysmal environmental record, or he should resign his seat on the board in protest of that record.

Ohio Citizen Action was among the groups pressuring Gee, and the OSU student newspaper, The Lantern, had this great interview in which Gee said:

“I think if you take a look at Massey’s record, it has one of the best environmental records in the country.”