Coal Behemoth With Close Ties to Trump Nears Financial Default

WASHINGTON –  The mining company of President Trump’s favorite coal boss is in danger of financial default – another sign of the death spiral of the dirtiest fossil fuel, despite the president’s hollow promise to revive the industry.

Murray Energy, the nation’s largest privately held coal mining company, missed multiple payments to lenders this week, Bloomberg News reported. Its creditors have given the company until Oct. 14 to figure out a plan to cover its payments.

CEO Bob Murray was a major contributor to Trump’s election campaign. He gave the new administration a wish list of environmental rollbacks. Many of those rollbacks have begun, including the repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate pact.

Murray also pressed the White House on a scheme to make regional electricity grids buy above-market-rate power from coal plants even when cheaper renewable sources are available. Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to fast-track consideration of the scheme, but the regulators rejected the plan.

Meanwhile, coal plant closings doubled in President Trump’s second year in office, despite his repeated pledge to “end the war on beautiful, clean coal.”

“The news that Murray Energy is on the verge of collapse should surprise no one – certainly not anyone in the coal industry,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “The epitaph for the death of coal is already carved on the industry’s tombstone, and Bob Murray and others in the industry know there’s nothing the Trump administration can do to stop it.”

A November 2017 analysis by EWG showed why Murray and other coal and nuclear executives are desperate for a bailout: Their plants are losing billions of dollars, and without subsidies to make them competitive with renewable energy and natural gas, utilities are rapidly closing coal and nuclear facilities, as demand for wind and solar surge.


The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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