Murray American Energy, part of Ohio-based coal producer Murray Energy, said April 14 that “due to the ongoing destruction of the United States coal industry by President Barack Obama, and his supporters, by the increased utilization of natural gas to generate electricity, and by the extremely excessive coal severance tax in the State of West Virginia,” some mine employee layoffs are needed in northern West Virginia.
These layoffs affect longwall-equipped mines working the Pittsburgh coal seam that Murray Energy bought in late 2013 from CONSOL Energy (NYSE: CNX). These mines supply power plants, some of which are being shut under the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which took initial effect on April 16. Actual plant shutdowns will happen over time, like American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) plans to shut thousands of MWs of coal-fired capacity in this region by June 1, and many power plants are under one-year MATS extensions that end in April 2016.
The affected Murray American Energy operations are:
- Ohio County Coal Co. – 59 hourly employees were laid off at the Ohio County Mine (formerly known as Shoemaker under CONSOL), bringing the classified hourly employment to 451 persons.
- Harrison County Coal Co. – 27 hourly employees were laid off, resulting in classified hourly employment of 422 persons at the Harrison County Mine (formerly Robinson Run).
- Marshall County Coal Co. – 128 contractors have been laid off. The Marshall County Mine (formerly McElroy) employs 814 classified hourly persons. Notable is that CONSOL operated this mine with two longwalls, thus the bigger workforce.
There have been no layoffs at: Marion County Coal Co.‘s Marion County Mine (formerly Loveridge), which employs 435 hourly persons; or the Monongalia County Coal Co.’s Monongalia County Mine (Blacksville No. 2), which employs 437 hourly persons. Murray American Energy noted that it had increased its West Virginia employment by about 400 jobs since its inception.