By Chris White
January 10, 2018 - A prominent coal CEO and avid supporter of the Trump administration calls former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg one of most dangerous men in America in a wide-ranging interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Bloomberg and former President Barack Obama have done immeasurable damage to the U.S. energy grid, according to Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray. Their anti-coal campaigns are destroying jobs and hurting people trying to stay warm this winter, Murray said.
“Michael Bloomberg is number two behind Obama as the people who did the most damage to America. They are elitist,” he said of the former mayor-turned eco-financier’s nearly $64 million campaign to rid the country of coal power.
“I had to close three mines and lay off a miner,” he said about having to layoff a long-time employee prior to our interview. “He had worked here 30 years. The guy was balling. Bloomberg never saw the effect his campaign had on his job”
Bloomberg poured more than $64 million into the Sierra Club’s political war chest in October of last year to help the group fight President Donald Trump’s efforts to resuscitate the fortunes of a beleaguered coal country. The war on coal began in coal country, not Washington, D.C., he said at the time of the announcement.
His announcement came a day after the Trump administration began repealing former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which sought to curb greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants. The former mayor has dumped money on similar efforts in the past.
Murray, an early supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign, also trashed those who did not support Energy Department Chief Rick Perry’s plan to force grid operators to give higher payments to coal and nuclear plants. Murray Energy goes into bankruptcy without Perry’s proposal to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
“If First Energy goes, so does Murray Energy. First Energy says they will go under without the FERC plan – the tax base will be gone in Ohio without those coal power plants. The entire economy will be destroyed,” Murray said of First Energy, a leading energy company that relies on Murray Energy for supplies.
FERC officials – four of five of whom are Trump appointees – rejected Perry’s proposal Monday afternoon. “[W]e are terminating the proceeding” to keep certain power plants running in September, they wrote in their decision. Perry’s plan focused on grid “resilience,” particularly during extreme cold events that put stress on the electric grid.
Murray warned in the past that the president’s administration could face stiff winds in Ohio if something is not done to help bolster the state’s coal industry – the result could be pain for Trump, who won the Buckeye State’s 18 electoral votes by a wide margin.
Coal employment tumbled across all of Ohio in recent years. There were nearly 3,000 coal miners in Ohio in 2013, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources – that number fell to 2,352 by 2015.
Ohioans blamed coal’s demise and the region’s overall industrial decline on the Obama-era’s environmental regulations, including the Clean Power Plan, which aimed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Trump nixed the CPP last year, but Ohio and other Appalachian state want more policies to help prop up the dying industry. Murray and other coal giants are also trying to fend off newer energy technologies.
Murray, a 77-year-old Ohio resident and one of his industry’s biggest advocates, sees no love lost between coal and other forms of energy, including fossil fuels, as well as solar and wind power.
“We’ve said that natural gas is way too volatile,” he told TheDCNF, adding that oil and gas are not capable of providing enough energy for Americans suffering during harsh winters. Exxon and other oil giants are horning in on a very crowded energy market place, according to Murray.
New technology has helped keep natural gas competitive. Extreme arctic temperatures in 2014 led to the price of natural gas doubling to roughly $8 per a million British Thermal Units (mmbtu), but prices have remained constant around $3/mmbtu across much of the country from December to the early part of January.
The difference this time is even stronger gas production from shale basins such as the Marcellus in Pennsylvania and the Permian in Texas, both of which have seen explosions in gas production since the mid-2000s.
“Rapid production growth that has unfolded in the second half of 2017 has limited concerns of a supply shortage this winter,” Teri Viswanath, an analyst at PIRA Energy Group, told The Financial Times shortly after New Year’s Day, when temperatures were plummeting throughout the country.