WASHINGTON – The death spiral of the U.S. coal industry claimed its latest victim, as the nation’s largest private coal mining company, with close ties to President Trump, filed for bankruptcy today.
Murray Energy, which has missed multiple payments to lenders, filed for Chapter 11 protection today in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio, according to a company news release.
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.”
Murray Energy is the eighth coal company to collapse into bankruptcy in the past year, as coal-powered electricity continues to fall in the face of much cheaper renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar, as well as natural gas.
“Bob Murray and his company are the latest examples of how market forces have sealed the fate of coal, and there’s nothing the president can do about it,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Donald Trump campaigned in coal country on the promise he’d bring back coal as the dominant source of the nation’s energy. Those promises have been shown to be cynical lies, and the victims of the fraud are hardworking miners and coal-state voters who believed them.”
A November 2017 analysis of federal data 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 nonprofit, 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.