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Murray Energy Fires 163 Workers, Citing a ‘War on Coal’

Murray Energy Corp., the largest closely held coal company in the U.S., is firing 163 workers at three subsidiaries, citing a “War on Coal” by the Obama administration.

“The actions of Mr. Obama and his appointees in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining, and Department of Labor, have already led to the closure by 2014 of 204 American coal-fired power plants,” the company said in three statements e-mailed today.

Murray dismissed 54 employees at The American Coal Co., based in Galatia, Illinois, 102 workers at Utah American Energy Inc., in East Carbon, Utah and seven workers at Kanawha Transportation Center Inc., in Wheeling, West Virginia.

U.S. coal producers have shut mines and fired thousands of workers this year after cutting tens of millions of tons of output in the face of weaker demand and prices. Coal use has declined as some power stations switched to burning natural gas. The industry is also facing regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency that restrict the burning of coal to produce power and limit new mining permits.

“The decision to lay people off was difficult and complicated. First, the Obama Administration’s War on Coal has already destroyed coal markets and resulted in the need for some layoffs,” Gary Broadbent, a spokesman for St. Clairsville, Ohio-base Murray Energy, wrote in an e-mail today.

“Second, the layoffs were more severe due to the anticipation of further damage to coal markets caused by the Obama Administration’s disastrous War on Coal.”

Chief Executive Officer Robert Murray read a prayer to workers asking God’s forgiveness for “decisions that we are now forced to make to preserve the very existence of any of the enterprises that you have helped us build,” the Washington Post reported.

Murray is the country’s largest privately owned coal company, according to its website.

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