Robert “Bob” Murray, known in the industry as the king of coal, died due to complications from lung disease early Sunday morning surrounded by his family in the Ohio Valley, his lawyer Michael Shaheen told CNN.
Murray was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or coal miner pneumoconiosis, in July 2016 and had been battling the disease since, according to Shaheen and a statement by American Consolidated Natural Resources.
A fierce supporter of coal miners and the coal industry, Murray had just announced his retirement as chairman of the board of directors of American Consolidated Natural Resources Holdings last week.
“Throughout my life in and about coal mines and in our industry, I have given all that I had to our employees and their families to sustain their family livelihoods and jobs for the hardworking people in our mining communities,” Murray said in a statement announcing his retirement.
“Fran and I have lost a dear friend. Bob and Brenda have been our friends for three decades,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement. “Bob fought through his medical challenges with the same energy, drive, guts, and faith as he approached everything in life. In any conversation we had, Bob talked about his faith in God, his love of family, and his dedication to his employees. Fran & I will deeply miss him.”
Murray battled the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for years and opposed government environmental regulations. He even called the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, from which President Donald Trump withdrew the United States, “‘a meaningless fraud that will have no effect on carbon dioxide emissions,’” according to an obituary published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He was also a strong Trump supporter who backed the president’s efforts to roll back environmental regulations.
Murray’s company, Murray Energy — America’s largest private coal miner — filed for Chapter 11 last year because it was unable to make payments to lenders. It emerged from bankruptcy in September, selling substantially all of its assets to American Consolidated Natural Resources. The coal industry hasn’t been able to compete with cheap natural gas and the plunging cost of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy.