BLUEFIELD, W.Va. - Robert Murray believes Barack Obama and Aubrey McClendon are undermining the coal industry and threatening the livelihoods of thousands of families.
"This is not the America that I have always cherished," Murray, founder and chief executive officer of Murray Energy Corp., said while speaking last week at the Bluefield Coal Show in southern West Virginia.
Murray operates the Century Mine near Beallsville, the Powhatan No. 6 mine and the Redbird West Mine in Jefferson County. Murray recently said 810 employees work at the Century Mine, with another 684 at Powhatan No. 6 and 66 at Redbird West. Together, the mines paid about $57.2 million in federal, state and local taxes last year.
The Eastern Ohio coal entrepreneur has long been a vocal and strident political foe of Obama and Democratic members of Congress.
"We are observing, with every passing day, that the destructive regulatory actions of President Barack Obama, his appointed cabinet bureaucrats, and his supporters in the U.S. House and Senate, are accelerating, not declining. Nothing has been done to even slow them down, let alone stop them," Murray said.
However, Murray believes natural gas drillers such as McClendon are determined to eliminate coal as an energy source. He has filed suit against McClendon - the former Chesapeake Energy chief executive officer who has formed his own company known as American Energy Partners - for alleged "infringement," as Murray operates the Century Mine under the American Energy Corp. subsidiary.
In late June, Obama announced he had directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to crack down on carbon emissions, specifically those coming from coal-fired power plants, to "prepare our nation for the unavoidable impact of climate change." The president has said he plans to promote the use of natural gas as a replacement fuel for coal, even though the EPA states that the venting of unburned methane can be up to 20 times more harmful to the atmosphere than the burning of coal.
Murray also alleges McClendon donated "at least $51.5 million to the Sierra Club and American Lung Association to eliminate the use of coal ..."
"It is essential that I fairly state that part of the problem that the U.S. coal industry is facing is being caused by the drastically increased use of natural gas for electric power generation," Murray said at Bluefield. "Of course, President Obama and his appointed bureaucrats have been encouraging natural gas use, while destroying coal mining and utilization, at every turn."
Last year, Murray had a dispute with Oxford Oil Co. after that drilling company initially received permission from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to drill wells into coal seams at the Century Mine. The ODNR eventually did not allow these wells to proceed after Murray objected for safety concerns.
According to Murray, Central Appalachian coal production is down 43 percent from 2008 levels. He also said the combined value of U.S. coal companies is $46.9 billion less than in the spring of 2011.
Murray said Obama is killing coal to please his "radical environmentalist, unionist, liberal elitist, Hollywood character and other constituents."
"Many prominent Americans are now discussing the need to impeach President Obama ... Maybe you will want to be part of this effort," he added.