Second Major U.S. Coal Company in Two Weeks Declares Bankruptcy

POLITICS & POLICY
Coal camp company houses sit below the Lone Mountain Processing coal mine in St. Charles, Va., May 18, 2018. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Two major U.S. coal companies have declared bankruptcy in the last two weeks, in a dramatic demonstration of the industry’s recent decline.

Revelation Energy LLC. and its affiliate Blackjewel LLC. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of West Virginia on Monday. Together, the companies employ about 1,700 people in Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming, and control about 600 million reserve tons of coal.

Revelation’s bankruptcy comes just two weeks after Cambrian Coal, LLC., which operates mines in Kentucky and Virginia, took the same step, citing decreased demand as well as disadvantageous regulations.

“It’s devastating for the community,” Charles Raleigh, the mayor of Cumberland, Ky., where Revelation employed between 200 to 300 people, told the Lexington Herald Leader. “It’s a sad situation. I hate it for the miners.”

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In an affidavit, Revelation owner Jeff Hoops cited a slew of negative outside forces as the reason for his companies’ collapse, including sinking commodity prices, competition from natural gas and renewable energy, and crippling regulations.

“The impact of the macro and regulatory environment is not isolated to the Debtors Performance,” he said. “The entire U.S. mining complex has been impacted by these events.”

Revelation and Blackjewel said they owe $156 million in goods and services across all properties, including $60 million to the Department of the Interior, $6 million to the Kentucky State treasurer, and $1.6 million in Virginia state taxes. Revelation was the sixth largest American coal company as recently as 2017, responsible for almost 5 percent of U.S. coal production.

President Trump has touted his support for the coal industry, calling coal “indestructible stuff.”

“In times of war, in times of conflict, you can blow up those windmills,” Trump said at a campaign rally last year in Charleston, W.V. “They fall down real quick. You can blow up those pipelines. They go like this and you’re not going to fix them too fast. You can do a lot of things to those solar panels. But you know what you can’t hurt? Coal.”

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