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Coal Magnate, Mining Regulations Opponent Bob Murray Dies At 80

Bob Murray, former CEO/President of Murray Energy
PBS NewsHour
Bob Murray, former CEO/President of Murray Energy

Bob Murray, the former head of one of the largest producers of coal in the country, died Sunday. Murray's death comes less than a week after stepping down as board chairman of the company he founded.

Murray was a miner and engineer who founded Murray Energy in 1988. Last year, the company was the country's fourth top producer of coal.

He gained national attention for his staunch opposition to environmental and mine safety regulations.

Murray donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Donald Trump's inauguration in 2017, then urged the Trump Administration to roll back policies that sought to fight climate change through a memo Murray called an "action plan."

The Trump Administration went on to implement several of the items suggested in that "action plan," including repealing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement.

However, despite lifting coal regulations, the industry continued to struggle. In 2019, Murray Energy was one of the several coal companies to file for bankruptcy. With that filing, Murray stepped down as CEO and president of Murray Energy which reformed under a new name, American Consolidation of Natural Resources, in September.

Murray remained with the company as board chair, but announced on October 19 that he would step down from that role.

Top Republican leaders, such as Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), have offered their condolences to the Murray family.

"Bob fought through his medical challenges with the same energy, drive, guts, and faith in God as he approached everything in life. In any conversation I ever had with a Bob, he always talked about three things: his faith in God, his love of Brenda and their children and grandchildren, and his dedication to his employees. He has fought the good fight. We will deeply miss him," DeWine said in a written statement. 

Recently, West Virginia Public Broadcasting and Ohio Valley Resource, reported on public documents showing Murray filed for federal benefits for black lung disease. The cause of Murray's death has not been disclosed.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.