Murray Energy

Bob Murray
Glynis Board / Ohio Valley ReSource

Last fall, Murray Energy — the largest privately-owned coal company in America with a large presence in the Ohio Valley — joined many of its peers in declaring bankruptcy. Murray faced mounting debt and a struggling coal market. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, tanking the global economy including energy markets. 

S&P Global Market Intelligence senior reporter Taylor Kuykendall has been following the bankruptcy case closely. Late last week, he spoke with energy and environment reporter Brittany Patterson about the latest updates in the case.


Black Lung Trust Fund Likely Burdened By Murray Bankruptcy

Nov 20, 2019
Bob Murray speaking at an event in October, 2019.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

The recent bankruptcy of Murray Energy is likely to significantly increase the debt of a struggling federal trust fund that supports disabled miners’ health care expenses.

According to court filings, Murray Energy could be responsible for as much as $155 million under the Black Lung Act and general workers’ compensation, but testimony from the Government Accountability Office shows that the company only offered $1.1 million in collateral to the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. 

Is Murray Energy The Nation's Largest Coal Company?

Nov 12, 2019
Robert Murray, center, chief executive of Murray Energy Corp., talks to two miners in charge of drilling bore holes into the Crandall Canyon Mine before a news conference.
AP file photo

Murray Energy Corp., a major player in the coal-mining industry, declared bankruptcy in late October, sending shockwaves across coal-dependent regions of West Virginia and neighboring states.

In addition to putting coal employment at risk, the company is the last major employer contributing to the United Mine Workers of America’s pension plan.

The Trump administration has spent three years trying to help the coal industry by rolling back environmental regulations and pushing for subsidies for coal-fired power plants. Still, the long list of coal company bankruptcies has continued, and dozens more plants have announced their retirement since President Trump took office.

Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley Resource

 

This story was updated on Oct. 29 to include additional information and reaction.

Murray Energy Corp., the largest underground coal mining company in America with a substantial footprint across the Ohio Valley, has filed for bankruptcy protection. 

Bob Murray
Glynis Board / Ohio Valley ReSource

Coal mining executive Bob Murray has lost an appeal in a yearslong case regarding coal miner intimidation.

 

In an opinion issued Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with a previous decision that Murray Energy's president and CEO intimidated workers and interfered with miners’ rights to report unsafe working conditions. The appeals court denied Murray's petition to revist the earlier ruling.

 

John Oliver
Charles Sykes / AP

Coal company Murray Energy has sued HBO and its Sunday-night host, John Oliver, for what it says was a "false and malicious broadcast" last Sunday evening. It's seeking financial damages and a court order barring rebroadcasts of the segment's "defamatory statements."

Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" coal segment criticized the Trump administration's effort to revive the industry, saying coal jobs have dropped for decades and other energy alternatives are driving the industry's decline.

A federal judge in West Virginia has ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must evaluate the impact its air pollution regulations have had on power generating jobs.

The Register-Herald reports that U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey ruled on Monday that the EPA must comply with a federal code requiring it to evaluate its regulations. He ordered the EPA to file a plan and schedule for compliance to the federal code within 14 days.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The United Mine Workers of America is holding a series of meetings with coal miners this week to go over details of a new contract agreement.

The UMWA says the meetings concern a tentative agreement with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, which is made up of many Murray Energy coal mine operations.

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

Coal giant Murray Energy says it is not expecting to lay off any of the 4,400 coal miners in six states who recently received notice that they could lose their jobs.

A release from the St. Clairsville, Ohio, company says that despite the warning, "no layoffs are contemplated or expected at this time." 

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

Giant coal producer Murray Energy has issued notices that it could lay off up to 4,400 coal mine workers in six states come September.

A news release from the St. Clairsville, Ohio, company says it issued the notices for its operations in Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, Kentucky, Utah and Pennsylvania.

Steve Helber / AP File Photo

Donald Trump is heading to Wheeling for an invitation-only fundraiser with coal magnate Robert Murray.

Murray Energy spokesman Gary Broadbent says Murray is hosting a fundraiser Tuesday for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. It will take place at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.

http://www.murrayenergycorp.com/

One of the nation's largest coal companies is challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's final ruling that the agency's 2014 mercury and air toxics standards will stay in place even after a new consideration of costs.

The State Journal reports that Murray Energy filed a brief with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Monday, challenging the EPA's supplemental finding that was submitted earlier in the day.

Murray Energy says West Virginia lawmakers have "abandoned our coal miners" by killing a bigger break for struggling coal companies.

Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent's comments came after a House panel opted Wednesday only to study severance tax cuts.

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

A large West Virginia underground coal mine owned by Murray Energy is halting production for nearly two weeks and possibly longer.

Murray Energy chairman and CEO Robert Murray said Wednesday that the Marion County mine would be idled until at least March 7 because of reduced demand for coal from electric utilities. The mine employs about 500 workers.

Underground Mine, Miners, Mining
Robert PEnergy / wikimedia commons

In a booming speech, Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray called for a deep cut to a state coal mining tax possibly offset by higher taxes on tobacco, alcohol, professional services and natural gas production.

Murray's 38-minute address came Wednesday at the West Virginia Coal Mining Symposium in Charleston.

Underground Mine, Miners, Mining
Robert PEnergy / wikimedia commons

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin wants to give struggling coal producers a break by dropping a tax used to pay down a worker's compensation debt.

That debt should be paid off this year. Coal's portion brought in $64 million last budget year.

Union officials say nearly 600 coal miners could lose their jobs at Murray Energy Corp. mines in West Virginia and Ohio.

The United Mine Workers of America said Thursday that 532 of the planned layoffs would occur at five Murray mines in northern West Virginia. About 82 to 125 miners would lose jobs at each mine.

Adobe Stock

A federal judge has set a July trial date in a coal company’s lawsuit against the top U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official.

 

On Wednesday, Dec. 23, U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey in Wheeling ordered a July 19 trial date in the case brought by coal giant Murray Energy against EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

http://www.murrayenergycorp.com/

A woman let go by a West Virginia mining company has filed a federal lawsuit claiming she lost her job to a man because of her gender and pregnancy.

The Dominion Post reports that Alyssa Moate Larry filed the suit against Marion County Coal Co. The subsidiary of Murray Energy operates the Loveridge Mine.

AllVoices.com

A judge has ordered Murray Energy's CEO to inform coal miners about their rights to file complaints with federal mine safety regulators. The judge also ordered a 150-thousand-dollar fine before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. 

gavel
wikimedia / Wikimedia

A federal judge has ruled U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy must give a deposition in a lawsuit over the impact of regulations on jobs.

U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey in Wheeling, West Virginia, wrote Thursday that there's no viable alternative to deposing McCarthy in top coal producer Murray Energy's lawsuit.

Brian Turner / Wikimedia Commons

Two Murray Energy subsidiaries have filed a lawsuit against the United Mine Workers of America alleging breach of contract.

The lawsuit says union workers have refused to report allegedly unsafe working conditions to management. The lawsuit also says union workers have refused to make a sincere effort to resolve any such issues with management.

Underground Mine, Miners, Mining
Robert PEnergy / wikimedia commons

Murray Energy has agreed to pay more than $3 million to resolve safety violations issued to five coal mines in northern West Virginia under a previous owner.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said Wednesday that an administrative law judge approved the settlement between it and the Ohio-based company. The settlement resolves a total of 1,753 violations issued to the Blacksville No. 2, Robinson Run No. 95, Shoemaker, Loveridge No. 22 and McElroy mines prior to Murray Energy's acquisition of the operations from CONSOL Energy Inc. in December 2013.

Coal Stock Pile
www.mine-engineer.com

A Murray Energy subsidiary and the United Mine Workers of America have settled a lawsuit over the company's use of non-union workers.

U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley approved the settlement and dismissed the case on Tuesday.

Two companies have been cited by West Virginia regulators in separate fatal mine accidents.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training issued two citations to Rogers Petroleum Services Inc. and eight citations to Murray Energy.

Ben Adducchio / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Murray Energy and a Pennsylvania agency have agreed to settle a lawsuit over a massive fish kill in Dunkard Creek in 2009.

Spokesmen for Murray and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission tell The Dominion Post that details of the tentative settlement won't be released until it is finalized.

A Murray Energy subsidiary has been cited by federal regulators for an accident that killed one worker and injured three others at a mine in Marshall County.

A report released Wednesday by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration says McElroy Coal. Co. didn't adequately support the roof, face and walls where miners work or travel.

http://www.murrayenergycorp.com/

State regulators have cited Murray Energy Corp. for a spill at a subsidiary's coal preparation plant in Benwood.

Media outlets report that sediment and liquid spilled into the Ohio River on Saturday from Ohio County Coal Co.'s plant. The Department of Environmental Protection cited Murray for failing to maintain discharge controls.

DEP spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater says the spill didn't appear to have any effect on aquatic life.

Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent says the company has remedied the incident.

http://www.murrayenergycorp.com/

Murray Energy Corp.'s Monongalia County Coal Company has announced its Monongalia County Mine will resume underground mining operations.

The Dominion Post reports the company made the announcement Friday. The mine, which was formerly Blacksville No. 2, will begin operating on a partial production basis on Monday.

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