CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — An audibly angry Bob Murray had a very clear message for coal miners hopeful that a Trump administration will lead to a bounce back for the struggling industry.
“It can’t come back to where it was,” he said. “Before Mr. Obama, 52 percent of our electricity came from coal. Today it is 29.9 percent.”
Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy, said on Monday’s edition of MetroNews “Talkline” with guest host Mike Queen that he believes in President-elect Trump’s pledge to put coal miners back to work.
“He certainly will,” Murray said. “He will follow through on his commitments to America’s coal miners.”
“He called me the week before last and told me to tell all of the miners in West Virginia — the citizens there — that he had their back and would follow through.”
But Murray did hesitate slightly on just how much the coal industry could rebound.
“I’ve cautioned Mr. Trump to not over commit to miners and to America as to what he can do in bringing the coal industry back,” he said.
Murray apportioned much of the blame on the Obama Administration and “partisan hacks” in Washington D.C.
Additionally, Murray blamed the natural gas industry for coal’s steep decline in West Virginia over the past eight years.
“They are building [a gas power plant] in Moundsville one that’s going to create 30 jobs,” he said. “It’s going to eliminate 258 coal mining jobs.”
“Coal mining is labor intensive. It employs people.”
He did not specifically mention market forces and pricing from state-to-state in the industry, but did say West Virginia’s taxation on coal makes the industry less profitable compared to its neighbors.
“The governors of West Virginia, over the years, balanced the state budget on the backs of the coal miners who are now laid off,” he said.
Murray suggested that the five cent per ton tax needs to be reduced to two cents if the West Virginia coal industry would remain competitive.
Last week, Treasury Secretary Bob Kiss reported the state was on pace for a 400 million dollar shortfall heading into the next fiscal year.