Coal baron Murray slams 'law-breaking' Obama

THE "insane, regal administration of King Obama" has broken the law as part of the US president's "power grab of America's power grid", American coal magnate Robert E Murray has charged.

Anthony Barich
Coal baron Murray slams 'law-breaking' Obama

The Murray Energy Corporation CEO told Platts’ Coal Marketing Days conference in Pittsburgh that Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency was “unconstrained by law, science, economics and reality” as part of the president’s efforts to “wreak the total destruction of the US coal industry”

He said publicly traded US coal companies had lost about two-thirds of their market value since April 2011, some being “totally erased by bankruptcy or significant liquidity problems, and other probable coal company financial failures have been identified by us”

What’s more, he believes the courts increasingly siding with his company, which has filed four lawsuits against the EPA, and has been joined by nine states in amicus findings.

He noted that the past fortnight has seen the US Court of Appeals for the Districts of Columbia and the Northern West Virginia District Court uphold his lawsuits by overriding EPA motions against them and allowing them to proceed.

“Our lawsuits are the first in the nation to potentially invalidate the entire ESPS [existing source performance standards] Rule on so-called greenhouse gases,” he said, adding that his company was also participating in two other lawsuits against the EPA with 13 states.

He forecast that the regulations the EPA has used since 2009 would close 411 coal-fired power generating units in the US through 2016. This would lose about 100,000 megawatts of the country’s US4c per kilowatt hour coal-powered electricity, while the Obama Administration promotes wind and solar power, which cost 22c/kWh, with substantial taxpayer-funded subsidies.

This affects America’s poorest and those on fixed incomes the most, citing US Chamber of Commerce stats that showed electricity cost increases would consume an average disposal income of $2100 per US household.

Not only would those in the lowest 10% economic level pay three times more than the highest 10% for their electricity, the elimination of low cost electricity would also render the country’s manufacturers unable to compete in the global marketplace, he said.

Murray said Obama’s anti-coal push is putting “all of our coal industry’s plans at risk”, compounding what he foresaw as a negative near-term market outlook for thermal and metallurgical coals in contrast to a public coal companies’ sentiments.

“In Murray Energy’s opinion, contrary to some recent public coal companies’ statements, there is absolutely nothing on the horizon that makes us think positively about coal demand and prices through 2015, and, perhaps beyond, depending on interim events, in both the domestic and international coal markets,” he said.

“Murray Energy is a private company and is not concerned with our stock price, and we are planning for a somewhat reduced coal marketplace, in terms of prices and demand, through at least next year, with only a possible slight improvement in the years beyond.”

The efforts of Obama and his supporters in the US House and Senate to destroy the country’s coal industry are “rapidly accelerating”, he said, even as the president has “totally usurped the legislative branch of our federal government in his radical agenda against coal and reliable, low-cost electric power”

Further, Murray charged that the courts act too slowly for the judicial branch to be effective in stopping “the regulatory rampage against our industry and livelihoods”

He said Obama has not only bypassed Congress to implement these “illegal actions”, but also the also the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and, particularly, the states and their

Public Utility Commissions, which are empowered to regulate the availability and cost of electricity.

“This puts the Obama EPA in charge of our electricity supply. How better to wrest control of our country?” he said.

Murray called Obama’s Clean Power plan aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the “fossil fuel fired” power fleet by 30% by 2030, as measured on a 2005 baseline, as a “total and dangerous power grab by the Obama EPA, as there will be no additional generating capacity unless approved by the EPA”.

“Again, this is a bypass of states and their utility commissions which are charged with assuring reliable and low-cost power supplies,” he said.

The proposal would have virtually no effect on the global climate, while the EPA has claimed health benefits for reducing ozone and particulate matter – pollutants that are already tightly regulated under the Clean Air Act, which he called “double counting”

“Furthermore, the Obama Administration is now proposing regulations to capture methane from mine exhaust fans,” he said. “This is generally not feasible and certainly uneconomical.

“Also, the Obama EPA, by usurping the US Corps of Engineers and the respective state regulatory programs, has shut down our ability to get permits to operate our mines, and particularly for coarse refuse and slurry impoundments.

“We have made no progress in getting some of these needed permits in the six years of the Obama administration, and without these approvals, we have no place to put our waste rock and slurry, and our mines will thus be closed.”


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