Murray Energy Bankruptcy Shows Not Even Deregulation Can Save Coal

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Public Citizen’s Energy Program Director

Note: Today, Murray Energy, the largest privately held coal producer in the U.S., declared bankruptcy – making it the eighth coal company to do so this year.

President Donald Trump’s promises to save coal with deregulation are as bankrupt as Murray Energy. Even when coal companies get exactly the corporate welfare and license to pollute that they want, they still go bankrupt because renewable energy has been outcompeting coal in the market.

In March 2017, Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray sent a 17-point action plan to the Trump administration – a list of deregulatory actions to save coal – and the administration acted on 14 of those items. Then in August, four days after Murray delivered a letter to the White House demanding action, Murray Energy gave $1 million to Trump’s SuperPAC. Even now, Trump’s U.S. Department of Energy is trying to orchestrate a multibillion-dollar bailout of the coal industry under the false pretense that it’s necessary for national security.

Instead of propping up the failing coal industry with taxpayer-funded bailouts, we should support the workers in transition and shut these mines down. Now is the time to speed the transition to renewable and more efficient sources of energy that don’t fuel the climate crisis.

Even under this bankruptcy, Murray Energy won’t cease operations – this is a reorganization to give the company time to settle with its creditors. There’s a good chance Murray Energy may try to shed its pension obligations in bankruptcy court. It wouldn’t be the first time the company and its CEO have put profits ahead of workers’ well-being. The courts shouldn’t allow that.