World's largest private coal miner may file for bankruptcy

Strip coal mining
CC BY 3.0 Wikimedia

It's fair to say that things have been a little rough for fossil fuels of late. For coal producers, in particular, things look downright terrible. Whether it's a growing divestment movement, increasingly competitive renewables and natural gas, or stricter air pollution regulations, it sometimes seems like the industry is being squeezed from all sides.

Now The Guardian reports that Peabody Energy, the St. Louis-based company that is considered the largest private coal miner in the world, may be filing for bankruptcy after failing to make a routine interest payment on its debts.

This isn't the first sign of trouble at Peabody either.

When I reported on comments from Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray that folks must be "smoking dope" if they believe coal is coming back in the US, I also noted that Peabody Energy had just been booted from the S&P 500 due to the company's diminishing financial prospects.

Given that this is a company that thought giving out free inhalers was a smart corporate responsibility move, many of us environmentalists will welcome this news as yet one more sign that a transition to cleaner, lower carbon energy is truly under way. (And there will likely be a net growth in jobs as a result.)

That said, there will be victims from such financial troubles too—especially in regions that depend on coal for jobs. So even as we champion a transition to a cleaner, more sustainable world, let's not forget to seek ways that we can bring all communities along for the ride.

Tags: Coal | Corporate Responsibility | Economics

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