CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A major U.S. coal mining company is seeking bankruptcy protection, despite a flurry of regulatory breaks that its CEO pushed for — and received — from the Trump administration.
by CATHY BUSSEWITZ, JOHN RABY and ELLEN KNICKMEYER
Ohio-based Murray Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization Tuesday, joining a growing list of struggling miners as utilities switch away from coal to cheaper and less-polluting renewable energy or natural gas.
The filing marks a significant political failure for Trump, who had sought to end what he called a “war on coal” by Democrats as a key part of his campaign and early presidency. Murray Energy was the country’s fourth largest coal producer in 2018, accounting for 6% of total production, according to the Energy Information Administration. Other major producers that have sought bankruptcy protection this year include Blackjewel Mining in West Virginia and Cloud Peak Energy in Wyoming.
Murray Energy’s move was necessary to access cash and best position it for long-term success, said former CEO Robert Murray. The company’s operations span Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia, as well as Colombia, South America.
Government preference for gas and renewable energy to replace coal-fired power generation, combined with a recent severe reduction in coal exports, delivered a one-two punch that an over-extended Murray Energy could not withstand, said Cecil Roberts, president of United Mine Workers of America.
“Now comes the part where workers and their families pay the price for corporate decision-making and governmental actions,” Roberts said in a prepared statement. “But that does not mean we will sit idly by and let the company and the court dictate what happens to our members and our retirees. We have high-powered legal, financial and communications