Bob Murray, ex-CEO of the now-bankrupt Murray Energy, has filed for black lung benefits, as reported today by West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Murray Energy was once the largest private coal mining company in the US, and Murray, who spent decades as a coal miner himself, is currently dying of black lung.
In his tenure as CEO of Murray Energy, Murray routinely opposed regulation of all sorts, whether it be worker safety or environmental regulation. Notably he presided over the Crandall Canyon Mine collapse, in which six workers and three emergency workers died, resulting in one of the largest fines ever levied by the US government against a coal mine due to Murray’s failures that led to the tragedy.
Murray Energy’s bankruptcy has also been a drag on the government’s Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. As of last November, Murray Energy had only contributed $1.1 million of the $155 million it owed to the fund.
Late last year, while Murray Energy was asking bankruptcy courts for leniency in paying the $2.7 billion in debt and $8 billion in obligations it owed, it was discovered that even as his company was going bankrupt, he continued to pay himself a huge salary and lobby against science and public safety while asking courts to forgive his debts to his workers.
Murray’s lobbying continued this year, after those revelations, as his bankrupt company spent $100,000 in just the first quarter on lobbying activities opposing federal black lung benefits. The coal industry, long dying for unrelated reasons (despite Murray’s best efforts to enlist the help of former reality TV host Donald Trump in resuscitating it – they failed) had the gall to cite the COVID-19 pandemic in asking the federal government for relief on a black lung excise tax that pays for the very programs from which Bob Murray is currently trying to draw. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, targeting the same vital organ that black lung does.
Murray has been known for his litigious style, famously lampooned by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. If you’re looking for more background on what a piece of…”work”…Bob Murray is, enjoy a couple Last Week Tonight episodes about coal, and how Murray mistreats his workers, and Murray’s ridiculous feud with the show.
Fitting this pattern, in response to West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s questions about his black lung benefits claim, Murray (predictably and pathetically) threatened legal action. Their full story is excellent and deserves a read.
Needless to say, there’s only one appropriate reaction to Murray’s insistence that he deserves benefits from a fund that he has lobbied against, has refused to pay his debts to, and which is for a disease he is dying from but still says he doesn’t have. That reaction? Eat shit, Bob.
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