Robert "Bob" Murray is the founder and CEO of Murray Enrergy, a privately-held coal mining company.
Murray is a director of several coal industry lobbying organizations, including:
- American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE - as of 2017 tax filing),
- National Mining Association (as of 2018 tax filing),
- American Coal Foundation (as of 2018 tax filing),
- Bituminous Coal Operators Association Inc Retiree Welfare (as of 2017)
Murray is known for suing reporters and public figures who have criticized him, including HBO's John Oliver (for referring to Murray as a "geriatric Doctor Evil") and the Huffington Post (for a guest post calling Murray an "extremist"). Murray's lawsuits are Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP suits), since they are consistently dismissed by judges on the grounds that free speech is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Murray has described global warming as "hysterical global goofiness."
In his 2007 testimony before Congress, Murray said, "The hysterical and out-of-control climate change or global warming issue, and the legislation that you have proposed, will lead to the deterioration of the American standard of living and the accelerated exportation of more of our jobs to China and other developing countries, which have repeatedly advised, as recent (sic) as last week, that they will not limit their carbon dioxide emissions."
Referring to Rachel Carson: "She and her environmental followers killed millions of human beings around the world with the ban on DDT, which has since been found by the World Health Organization to be very safe to humans in controlling global epidemics."
Explaining employee benefit cuts: "Murray Energy's inability to provide these benefits is, in part, due to the destruction of the coal industry, including our markets, by the Obama Administration and its appointees and supporters, who have eliminated the livelihoods of thousands of coal miners, and their families, by the forced closing of 392 coal-fired electric power plants in America, now and in the immediate future."
Murray Energy is the 71st greatest global warming polluter of all time, according to the Carbon Majors project, a scientific accounting of historic carbon emissions to specific companies.
Workplace Safety Violations at Murray Energy
While Murray has emphasized his company's concern for worker health and safety, from 2000 to 2009 the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration cited Murray Energy for over 7,700 "significant" violations resulting in $18 million in fines, including a record $1.8 million fine for a 2007 collapse at the company’s Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah, which killed six miners and three rescue workers. After the collapse, Murray offered to let miners relocate to other mines, but only if they took a pay cut. A 2008 MSHA report concluded the mine was “destined to fail” because the company didn’t report early warning signs.
Murray Energy + Employees Support For Republican Politicians
Murray gave over $230,000 to conservative candidates and PACs in the 2012 election cycle, including $30,000 to House Speaker John Boehner and $5,000 to Wisconsin's union-busting governor, Republican Scott Walker.
In the 2012 presidential election cycle:
- Murray hosted a $1.7 million fund-raiser for Mitt Romney, making employee attendance mandatory without pay.
- Murray hosted a fundraiser for Rick Perry in West Virginia, in 2011
In the 2016 presidential election cycle:
- Murray was reported to be attending a secret retreat of coal industry CEOs, featuring Jeb Bush as a speaker
- Murray hosted a fundraiser for Senator Ted Cruz of Texas
Blaming President Obama For Worker Layoffs:
Days after Obama's 2012 re-election, Murray fired 163 of his employees, claiming Obama's "war on coal" made it impossible for new coal plants and jobs to thrive. Some of these employees were later rehired.
Murray announced that in August 2014, over 1,000 ex-miners would lose their promised health benefits, blaming Obama's "war on coal."
In 2013, Murray unsuccessfully sued blogger Mike Stark for defamation and invasion of privacy after the blogger published an article on Huffington Post highlighting a $30,000 donation that Murray made to Virginia Republican Ken Cuccinelli's gubernatorial campaign.
Robert Murray and Donald Trump:
In 2014, Murray Energy hired career climate science denier Steve Milloy to be the company's Director of External Policy and Strategy. Milloy served on the Transition Team for Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency, and continued to work with climate deniers at The Heartland Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, and other organizations to continued to pressure the Trump EPA from the outside. After Scott Pruitt left the EPA, he was replaced by Andrew Wheeler, a former Murray Energy lobbyist.
In March, 2019, two lobbying groups that include Bob Murray on their boards of directors hosted a steak dinner featuring Rick Perry, Trump's Energy Secretary. Murray had previously financed Rick Perry's unsuccessful 2012 election bid.
In July, 2019, Donald Trump attended a fundraiser organized by Robert Murray, that was expected to raise $2.5 million for Trump's re-election campaign. Murray personally wrote to West Virginia governor James Justice to invite him.
In October, 2019, Murray and the other board members of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a coal industry lobbying organization, were joined by Trump Administration officials for a directors meeting, according to an agenda published by Documented.
As of October, 2019, during Trump's presidency, Murray Energy is expected to file for bankrupcy.