West Virginia

Appeals court affirms conviction of coal CEO in deadly blast

FILE - In this May 20, 2010 photo, Massey Energy Company Chief Executive Officer Don Blankenship pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The former CEO who oversaw the West Virginia mine that exploded in 2010, killing 29 people, has been indicted on federal charges related to a mine safety investigation. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said a federal grand jury indicted Blankenship on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

FILE - In this May 20, 2010 photo, Massey Energy Company Chief Executive Officer Don Blankenship pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The former CEO who oversaw the West Virginia mine that exploded in 2010, killing 29 people, has been indicted on federal charges related to a mine safety investigation. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said a federal grand jury indicted Blankenship on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)  (The Associated Press)

A federal appeals court has affirmed the conviction of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship in connection with the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in four decades.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down the opinion Thursday, saying it found no reversible errors in trial rulings.

Blankenship's attorneys had argued that jury instructions made it too easy to conclude that he willfully violated safety rules at West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine before the 2010 explosion that killed 29 men.

Massey Energy CEO on Mine Collapse

He was convicted in 2015 of a misdemeanor charge of conspiring to willfully violate safety standards and sentenced to one year in prison.

Blankenship reported to a California federal prison May 12 to begin serving the sentence.