Largest U.S. Private Coal Company Files Bankruptcy Despite Trump's Efforts to Help Industry
The Trump administration's efforts to prop up the coal industry hit another bump as one-time power giant Murray Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as NPR reported.
Murray Energy is the eighth coal company in a year to file for bankruptcy, the latest sign that the cost-fired power is losing its viability as consumers shift to cleaner modes of generating power that are surpassing coal's ability to generate energy. The wave of bankruptcies has hit even as the Trump administration rolls back environmental regulations and tries to prop up the industry with subsidies, according to NPR.
The Ohio-based company was the country's fourth largest coal producer in 2018, accounting for six percent of total production, according to the Energy Information Administration, as the AP reported.
Murray Energy is the nation's largest privately held coal company. The New York Times reported that it has nearly 7,000 employees,17 mines in six states across Appalachia and the South as well as two mines in Colombia, and it produces more than 70 million tons of coal a year.
Robert Murray, the company's founder and CEO, has been an ardent Trump ally and adviser. He has also denied the climate crisis and lobbied for government subsidies, as the New York Times reported. He donated $300,000 to Trump's inauguration, according to NPR. A few weeks after the inauguration he told CNBC, "I have 4,000 scientists that tell me global warming is a hoax. The Earth has cooled for 20 years."
His donations and chumminess with Trump seem to have given him influence. A few months into the Trump administration, Murray delivered an "action plan" for helping coal to Energy Secretary Rick Perry. The plan included 16 proposals that became a "to-do list" for the Trump administration, including replacing former President Obama's Clean Power Plan and withdrawing from the Paris agreement, as NPR reported.
Last year, the New York Times reported on Murray's outsized influence on the president and on energy policy.
As part of the company's restructuring, Robert Murray will step down as chief executive and his nephew Robert Moore will take over the position. Murray will stay on as chairman of the company's board. A lender group will take on more than 60 percent of about $1.7 billion in claims, according to Reuters.
"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, as Reuters reported.
Despite all Murray's influence, his company was not able to make payments on its bills.
"The main reasons why Murray is in the financial position that it's in is that it purchased a lot of assets over the last few years, which gave it a big debt position," said Natalie Biggs, a thermal coal research analyst at Wood Mackenzie, to NPR. She added that when coal prices dropped this year, the company did not generate enough revenue to cover its debts.
Last year, demand for coal fell to its lowest level in 40 years. Production dropped to its second lowest level since 1978, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as CNBC reported.
The bankruptcy will certainly have an effect on the company's miners.
"We have seen this sad act too many times before. Now comes the part where workers and their families pay the price for corporate decision-making and governmental actions," said Cecil Roberts, president of United Mine Workers of America, in a prepared statement, as the AP reported. "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 teams in place that will fight to protect our members' interests in the bankruptcy court."
- ACLU to Coal CEO Suing John Oliver: 'You Can't Sue People for ... ›
- 'It's About Economics': Two Coal Plants to Close Despite Trump's ... ›
- Will Coal Miners Stand by Trump as Jobs Disappear? ›
- Most Meat Will Be Plant-Based or Lab-Grown in 20 Years, Analysts ... ›
- Lab-Grown Meat Debate Overlooks Cows' Range of Use Worldwide ... ›
- Will Plant-Based Meat Become the New Fast Food? - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
One city in New Zealand knows what its priorities are.
Dunedin, the second largest city on New Zealand's South Island, has closed a popular road to protect a mother sea lion and her pup, The Guardian reported.
piyaset / iStock / Getty Images Plus
- No Country Is Protecting Children's Health, Major Study Finds ... ›
- 'Every Child Born Today Will Be Profoundly Affected by Climate ... ›
By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Earth had its second-warmest year on record in 2020, just 0.02 degrees Celsius (0.04°F) behind the record set in 2016, and 0.98 degrees Celsius (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA reported January 14.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for 2020, the second-warmest year the globe has seen since record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA. Record-high annual temperatures over land and ocean surfaces were measured across parts of Europe, Asia, southern North America, South America, and across parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. No land or ocean areas were record cold for the year. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Figure 2. Total ocean heat content (OHC) in the top 2000 meters from 1958-2020. Cheng et al., Upper Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High in 2020, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences
Figure 3. Departure of sea surface temperature from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Sea surface temperature were approximately one degree Celsius below average over the past month, characteristic of moderate La Niña conditions. Tropical Tidbits
- NASA and NOAA: Last Decade Was the Hottest on Record - EcoWatch ›
- Earth Just Had Its Hottest September Ever Recorded, NOAA Says ... ›
In December of 1924, the heads of all the major lightbulb manufacturers across the world met in Geneva to concoct a sinister plan. Their talks outlined limits on how long all of their lightbulbs would last. The idea is that if their bulbs failed quickly customers would have to buy more of their product. In this video, we're going to unpack this idea of purposefully creating inferior products to drive sales, a symptom of late-stage capitalism that has since been coined planned obsolescence. And as we'll see, this obsolescence can have drastic consequences on our wallets, waste streams, and even our climate.
- Consumer Society No Longer Serves Our Needs - EcoWatch ›
- Electronic Waste: New EU Rules Target Throwaway Culture ... ›