Trump Is Silent After Bankruptcy Wave Devastates Major Coal Producers
President Trump has routinely pumped the coal industry, calling it “indestructible” and telling everyone on social media that “coal is back.”
Coal consumption just crashed to its lowest level in four decades, and a string of bankruptcies from major coal producers has many people asking: Where is President Trump?
Blackhawk Mining, LLC., a coal producer with 2,800 workers in Kentucky and West Virginia, is the latest major producer to file for bankruptcy, according to filings.
The Lexington, Kentucky-based natural resource company said in court documents that it has $1 billion in debt, compared to $165 million in Ebitda in 2018. The company plans on shedding at least $650 million in debt.
The latest announcement comes after a string of bankruptcy proceedings from coal companies in Kentucky.
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear requested on July 15 that the United States Trustee repay hundreds of Kentucky miners left out of work after Blackjewel, LLC, another major coal producer that recently filed for bankruptcy.
Blackjewel removed paychecks from employees bank accounts earlier this month. Another check mid-month never came. Miners and their families were left speechless, they had to draw on savings, if not run up their credit card debt to make ends meet.
“The failure of Blackjewel to prepare for bankruptcy has created unnecessary chaos for our miners and their families — the uncertainty they have had to face is wrong and it must end,” Beshear said. “My office is using all our powers to seek answers to the complaints we have received regarding clawed back paychecks, bounced checks and child support issues.”
“No Kentuckian should be treated this way for putting in an honest day’s work,” he said.
President Trump was famous for saying “We are going to put our coal miners back to work” at a March 2017 “Make America Great Again” rally.
Blackhawk operates 19 underground mines and six surface mines in Kentucky and West Virginia, considered one of the biggest producers of metallurgical coal in the nation. The company borrowed massive amounts of debt, “anticipating that the pricing environment in the metallurgical coal market would improve starting in late 2015.”
The Blackhawk bankruptcy is the third major Kentucky coal producer to file for Chapter 11 since mid-June. Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy have also filed for bankruptcy in recent years.
In Kentucky, coal employment has collapsed in the last decade. Mining jobs in Eastern Kentucky plunged from 13,700 in 2011 to just 4,000 in 2017. In 1Q19, there were 3,960 coal jobs in the region.
Several reports cited dwindling growth of electricity demand has contributed to coal’s demise, due to more stringent environmental regulations.
Twitter archive shows President Trump has gone radio silent on the coal industry since the bankruptcy wave started earlier this year.
And just like the bailouts President Trump has issued to farmers, it wouldn’t shock us if the administration is preparing bailouts for the coal industry, just in time for the 2020 election.