As the future of coal darkens, Murray Energy files for bankruptcy

Murray Energy Corp. becomes the 8th coal company in the past year to file for bankruptcy protection.


October 30, 2019

Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

No offense to all the coal-heads out there, but Murray Energy Corp., a coal mining leader founded in 1988, filed for Chapter 11 yesterday.

That makes it the 8th coal company to file for bankruptcy protection in the past year, as the industry continues to get slapped around by greener and more economical energy options, according to The Wall Street Journal

Canary Coal in the coal mine

Back in the day, coal powered almost 50% of all US electricity. But, as natty gas and renewables become the rage, not even Robert E. Murray, the founder of the company and one of the nation’s last coal barons, could stop the turn (though it sure wasn’t for lack of trying). 

This year coal produced around 25% of all US electricity, and is on pace to drop to 22% in 2020, according to data from the Energy Department.

Demand for thermal coal has been declining for about a decade, Benjamin Nelson, a Moody’s coal analyst, told WSJ. But prices really dipped this year, proving just how for realsies people are when it comes to cleaning out the dirty stuff.

The proof is in the coal-colored pudding

Murray Energy, which according to its site “is the largest underground coal mining company in America,” announced it came to a restructuring agreement that involves $350m in new financing and Robert Murray stepping down as CEO.

Despite the fight to stifle the anti-coal movement, Murray’s filing once again shows that the prehistoric vegetation is headed the way of the dinosaur.  

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