Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageCoal giant Murray Energy files for bankruptcy

By Karen Graham     Oct 29, 2019 in Business
The slow death of the American coal industry has forced Murray Energy, the largest private coal miner in the United States, to file for bankruptcy protection Tuesday.
The Trump administration has spent three years trying to help the coal industry by rolling back environmental regulations and pushing for subsidies for coal-fired power plants. However, the long list of coal company bankruptcies has continued.
Now, one of President Donald Trump's biggest supporters, Robert Murray, the self-proclaimed king of the coal industry, has been replaced as CEO of Murray Energy as the largest private coal mining company in the United States, filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday.
Murray Energy has been on the verge of bankruptcy for several years. In July 2016, Murray sent a letter to employees indicating there may be the layoffs, blaming the weak coal market, with the company saying it anticipates “massive workforce reductions in September.”
Wall Street Journal
At the time, Robert Murray put the number of layoffs at around 5,356 employees across six states. Murray also warned that he might consider bankruptcy protection if he didn’t get concessions from the UMW, according to stories in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
On Tuesday, Murray said it had reached an agreement to restructure with some of its lenders and continue operating. This represents about 60 percent of Murray's $1.7 billion in liabilities. The company also received $350 million in credit to keep its business operating through the bankruptcy process.
Robert Murray is being replaced as CEO by his nephew, Robert Moore, who will become president and CEO while Murray will stay on as chairman. Moore has been the company's Chief Financial Officer until today.
"Although a bankruptcy filing is not an easy decision, it became necessary to access liquidity and best position Murray Energy and its affiliates for the future of our employees and customers and our long term success," said Robert Murray in a statement.
Sunrise Coal owns and operates an underground coal mine located in Carlisle  Indiana that produces 3...
Sunrise Coal owns and operates an underground coal mine located in Carlisle, Indiana that produces 3 million tons of bituminous coal annually. Approximately 90 percent of our coal is sold to utilities within the state of Indiana.
Sunrise Coal LLC
A significant move by a dedicated coal lobbyist
Not only does the bankruptcy underscore the enormous pressure facing coal miners, but it's almost like we have seen the death of a great giant in the coal sector.
"It's fair to say that Murray has been the last coal optimist in the country," said Sandy Buchanan, the Cleveland-based executive director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEFFA), a nonprofit clean-energy research group, reports Inside Climate News. "He's devoted his life to this industry and tried to make it work in one way or another. That company declaring bankruptcy is very significant."
Murray worked tirelessly doing political fundraising for President Donald Trump and personal lobbying for rollbacks of key federal regulations in an effort to prop up the failing coal industry. And it was Murray's 2017 "political wishlist" that he gave to the Trump administration that resulted in many actions since taken by the administration.
Surrounded by miners from Rosebud Mining  US President Donald Trump (C) signs he Energy Independence...
Surrounded by miners from Rosebud Mining, US President Donald Trump (C) signs he Energy Independence Executive Order at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Headquarters in Washington, DC, March 28, 2017
And it was Murray who wanted Trump to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, eliminate the Clean Power Plan rules for coal-fired power plant emissions, and scrap cross-state air pollution rules while changing the mine regulatory bodies that had fined his operations many times.
This is actually a small sampling of the moves the Trump administration made, all because of Murray's suggestions. But the one thing Murray could not do, despite all his money and stature in the coal industry was to push back the demise of the coal industry. In 2017, Appalachian coal was selling for $40 a ton, half of what it was in 2012. Today, that same coal is selling for $44 a ton.
"There's just not room for coal," said Kenneth Medlock III, an economist and senior director of energy studies at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy. "It's just not competitive." The coal industry will remain but in a much smaller form. "You just need to adjust to a new market reality," he said.
More about Murray Energy, Bankruptcy protection, coal sector, enormpus pressures, market forces
Latest News
Top News