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Murray Energy chief to fight Obama plan in court

WHEELING, W.Va. — With hundreds of its coal miners already in the unemployment line, Murray Energy Corp. officials will sue to stop President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a measure which proponents claim will cut carbon pollution from power plants by 32 percent compared to 2005 levels.

Before Obama even made his formal remarks on the matter Monday, Murray Chairman, President and CEO Robert E. Murray said he will work to prevent what he called “the illegality and impracticality of the rule.”

“American families and businesses will still bear the brunt of huge electricity cost increases and less power system reliability,” Murray said.

“Our citizens on fixed incomes will not be able to pay their electric bills, and our manufacturers of products for the global marketplace will not be able to compete,” Murray added. “We have no choice but to challenge the Obama administration’s illegal actions in court, and we will prevail.”

Largely in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards – which are separate sets of new federal rules – Murray in May eliminated 359 jobs at the Marshall County Mine and 146 jobs from the Ohio County Mine. The firm also laid off 141 miners from the Powhatan No. 6 Mine and 108 from Century Mine.

“We do not anticipate further work force reductions at this time,” Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent said. “However, some entire mines are vulnerable to closure due to the regulations of the Obama administration and his political supporters, who seek to eliminate the use of coal in America, and due to the increased use of natural gas to generate electricity.”

Also Monday, Alpha Natural Resources – which operates more than 70 coal mines and preparation plants in West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Wyoming – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va.

“The change and challenges the U.S. coal industry has experienced over the last several years are greater than any in the past three decades. There is no doubt more uncertainty ahead, but also transformational opportunity in the coal sector for those who make proactive, strategic decisions,” Alpha Chairman and CEO Kevin Crutchfield said.

However, Crutchfield said neither Alpha nor the U.S. coal industry should be thought of in the past tense. Instead, he said the mineral will continue playing a “critical role” in future electricity markets.

“I am confident Alpha will emerge from this process as a stronger company, with a diversified resource base and better positioned for the future,” he said.

Not everyone is upset about the announcements, as EPA Administrator Gina McCArthy calls the plan, “a historic step forward to give our kids and grandkids the cleaner, safer future they deserve.”

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