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Murray CEO urges coal execs: Keep pressure on Trump, GOP to help our industry

Robert Murray says the Trump administration has to ensure that Senate Republicans stay on course in ushering in regulatory changes that will favor the coal industry.

"Mr. McConnell has done absolutely nothing for four years now. We needed someone like Donald Trump to shake things up," the CEO and president of Murray Energy Corp. said at the 2017 Coaltrans Conference in Miami on Feb. 2.

Murray said his focus on politics has become easier now that the Democrats are out of power federally, but that the coal industry still needs to make the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., work for them.

"We hope that our Republican friends in the Senate will step up for us," he said. "The House, I don't worry about."

Murray presented a wish list of actions he would like to see under the new administration, including the elimination of the Stream Protection Rule and the Clean Power Plan. "We got the stay, now we need to get it eliminated," he said about the latter.

The House voted Feb. 1 to repeal the Stream Protection Rule, and the Senate is likely to pass a companion measure. Both Murray and CONSOL Energy Inc. are optimistic that the rollback could help their operations.

Murray also said the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration needs to be changed. "MSHA isn't about safety anymore. They're about politics."

The coal executive said the administration's pick to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, was the top of some choices Murray recommended.

"He's the best man he could have picked for the industry," Murray said.

Murray had harsh words for carbon capture and storage technology, however. "[CCS] is a pseudonym for no coal. It doesn't work," he said.

Regardless of possible positive changes the Trump administration or Republican lawmakers could usher in, Murray said it is increasingly difficult to convince investors to get involved in coal. "This whole industry is now up in the air," he said.