MAC: Mines and Communities

Gordon gee-ed himself up – and quit

Published by MAC on 2009-06-02

A fortnight ago, students at Ohio's state university - backed by several environmental organisations - called upon the university's president to resign as a board member of "mountain top destroyer" Massey Energy. See:

Their voices were obviously heard. Gordon Gee is resigning from Massey's board on July 1st. Questions remain, however, over whether he will also sell his 20,000 shares in the company.

Gee resigns from Massey Energy board of directors

The Lantern (Ohio State University Student Daily)

29th May 2009

When questioned by The Lantern about the legitimacy of his dual duties of environmental leader and member of Massey Energy's board of directors, Gee was confident that he could do right through his position. "It would be very easy for me to get off the company;I believe very strongly in environmental issues, and it's better to be inside the tent making a difference than it is outside complaining," he said in April.

Gee was correct about the ease of leaving his post. According to a press release from the coal mining company, Gee will be resigning from the board of directors effective July 1. "Massey Energy appreciates and understands Dr. Gee's desire to devote his attention to Ohio," said chairman and CEO Don Blankenship in a press release. "Since 2000, Dr. Gee has served Massey Energy with distinction. His wisdom, advice and experience will be greatly missed."

Gee served on Massey's Executive Committee, Audit Committee and Governance and Nominating Committee, according to Massey's 2008 annual report. Gee also was chair of the Safety, Environmental and Public Policy Committee. For his service, Gee receives more than $200,000, according to The Associated Press.

"Without [the salary, Gee] will become more receptive and neutral," said Mattie Reitman, of the Ohio Student Environmental Coalition. "I'm still concerned about the amount of stock he has." As of March 20, Gee owns 28,191 shares of Massey stock, according to The Associated Press. Ohio environmentalists are nonetheless proud of Gee's decision.

"I think he made the right decision," said Brian Rothenberg, the executive director of
Progressive Ohio. "He can now be a true leader of green initiatives."

Rothenberg said he believes that students such as those in OSEC, are the cause of this. "The students he cares about most, that are engaged are active in creating dialogue about these issues," Rothenberg said. "That had a lot to do with it."

"I think the pressure from so many organizations showed that being on the board was not right," Reitman said. "I think Gordon Gee has expressed some real leadership in our
energy future...he's joined a really significant movement." Ohio environmentalists concern with Massey is far from over.

"In the end, the real problem is a rogue CEO of a company with a horrible mining reputation," Rothenberg said. "It's not about Gordon Gee but about Don Blankenship. It's unfortunate that Gee's name is associated with Blankenship, with a notorious CEO." Gee was unavailable for comment at this time.

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