Murray Energy files for bankruptcy as US coal decline continues

MetroNews staff

Murray Energy, which owns and operates two mines in Utah, has filed for Chapter 11 protection in an OH bankruptcy court, the company announced.

Moore, who for years has served Murray Energy as its executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, will lead the operations of the newly formed Murray NewCo. and will become CEO of Murray Energy and Murray Energy Corp. - roles previously held by company founder Robert E. Murray, who will continue serving as chairman of the board under the new company.

According to a release, Murray has filed motions with bankruptcy court that pending approval, will allow day-to-day operations to continue uninterrupted.

Robert Moore was CFO at the company before being named CEO to replace Murray under the restructring plan.

Murray has been one of the most prominent coal executives to press the Trump administration for greater federal protection of the struggling industry.

Murray's operation spans across multiple states: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia. The company failed to make payments to lenders this month. But as coal generators close, that has posed challenges for the company's bottom line.

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.

In West Virginia, the company's operations include The Marshall County Coal Co.in the Moundsville area and The Ohio County Coal Co. near Wheeling. The company also operates 10 coal transloading facilities and five mining and equipment factory and fabrication facilities.

Murray Energy joins seven coal miners, including two large firms in the Western coal sector, to file for bankruptcy. The company employs almost 7,000 people including, in the region, miners that work in mines in Belmont and Marshall counties.

This story was first published on CNN.com, "America's largest private coal miner files for bankruptcy." .

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West Virginia Senate President Mitch Carmichael described the filing as a surprise. Murray hosted a fundraiser for Trump in July, which had been expected to raise $2.5 million.

In February, Trump took to Twitter to urge the Tennessee Valley Authority to not shutter the Paradise Fossil Plant in Kentucky, which is largely supplied by Murray mines.

His bid to keep coal viable included relentless criticism of the Obama administration's anti-coal policies and enthusiastic support for Donald Trump.

And it was Murray who wanted Trump to withdraw the USA 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.

However, the White House has been unable to fulfill one of Murrary's chief requests - to bailout struggling coal-fired power plants.

Murray's corporate headquarters is located just west of St. Clairsville in Belmont County, Ohio, while its American Energy Co. and Century Mine thermal coal site are situated near Beallsville in Monroe County, Ohio.

Murray also repeated his oft-cited nickname for the independent agency calling it "feckless FERC".

"Gonet says he has faith coal will make a comeback because he believes the world market will always demand it, "I am still optimistic for the future of our coal in IL". Along with the parent company, almost 100 affiliates also filed for Chapter 11. Murray is the last major employer paying into the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan that covers approximately 87,000 retired miners and surviving spouses who get monthly pensions averaging about $600. The Labor Department fined the company $1.85 million for violating federal mine safety law. In 2012, the agency settled with Murray for a reduced amount.

According to the company, the restructuring agreement contemplates that substantially all of Murray Energy's debt will be eliminated.

Murray later told NPR "this settlement is not an admission of any contribution to the August 2007 accidents".

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