Massey CEO Blankenship to testify on W.Va. mine accident at Senate hearing next week

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of Massey Energy Co. will face lawmakers next week for the first time since an explosion killed 29 workers at his company's Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia.

Massey chief executive Don Blankenship will testify before a Senate subcommittee considering mine safety spending following the worst mine accident in 40 years.

Blankenship's company was repeatedly cited for problems with its methane ventilation system and other issues in the months before the accident.

Some lawmakers blame the company for clogging the system with legal challenges to safety citations to delay stronger penalties. Massey has defended its safety record.

The hearing on Thursday will include testimony from the nation's top mine regulator and the Labor Department's top lawyer.