Bob Murray, Who Fought Black Lung Regulations, Has Filed For Black Lung Benefits
After years of fighting federal mine safety regulations aimed at reducing incidences of black lung disease, Robert E. Murray, the former CEO and president of the now-bankrupt Murray Energy, has now filed for black lung benefits himself.
“I founded the company and created 8,000 jobs there until the move to end coal use. I am still chairman of the board,” he wrote on a Labor Department form that initiated his claim obtained by the Ohio Valley ReSource. “We’re in bankruptcy, and due to my health could not handle the president and CEO job any longer.”
According to sources, Murray’s claim is still in the initial stages and is being evaluated to determine the party potentially responsible for paying out the associated benefits. The Labor Department is required to determine a liable party before an initial ruling can be made on entitlement to benefits. If Murray’s claim were to go before an administrative law judge, some aspects of the claim would become a matter of public record.
- The 80-year-old former CEO said in his claim that he depends heavily on an oxygen tank and is “near death.”
“During my 63 years working in underground coal mines, I worked 16 years every day at the mining face underground and went underground every week until I was age 75,” Murray wrote in his claim.
- WVPB wrote that Murray “for decades ran the largest privately owned underground coal mining company in the United States” and “has also been at the forefront of combatting federal regulations that attempt to reduce black lung, an incurable and ultimately fatal lung disease caused by exposure to coal and rock dust.”
- Wes Addington, executive director of the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, also said Murray was at the front of the fight against regulations:
“Today, in 2020, we're seeing more miners with more advanced black lung than the country has ever seen. And yet, the industry over the past 10 to 20 years, has consistently fought against any regulation that would try to limit the amount of dust that miners breathe,” Addington said. “Murray Energy has been part of that fight, along with a number of the largest coal companies in the country.”