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Murray Energy gave $5.7M to charities, conservatives prior to bankruptcy filing

Murray Energy Corp. spent at least $5.7 million on gifts and charitable contributions over the two years before filing for bankruptcy protection, according to court documents.

The company turned to a bankruptcy court in late October and has since proposed to establish a stalking horse bidder entity to make an offer on its assets before winding down the remaining estate. As part of its bankruptcy reorganization proceedings, the United Mine Workers of America is preparing to renegotiate collective bargaining agreements with the debtor pertaining to active and retired miners. Union spokesperson Phil Smith said in a recent interview that the renegotiated contracts are rarely as good as the original.

The largest privately held coal producer, which was run by Robert Murray before the filing, contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to entities that deny climate science and fight against environmental regulations. Murray has long been an outspoken critic of such regulations, particularly during the Obama administration, and has denied climate change.

Among the contributions, the coal company gifted $300,000 to Government Accountability & Oversight, a law firm that works against climate activists, over the period. Murray Energy also gave $200,000 to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a limited-government think tank that does not believe that scientists have proved that humans are the primary driver of rising emissions, according to The New York Times.

The company contributed $130,000 to the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank that promotes climate change deniers, and $95,000 to the Senate Leadership Fund, an independent super PAC aiming to expand the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate. Another $50,000 went to FreedomWorks, a conservative organization in Washington, and $60,000 was gifted to the International Climate Science Coalition, a Canadian entity that advises against replacing fossil fuels with wind and solar generation and focuses on "publicizing the repercussions of misguided plans to 'solve the climate crisis,'" according to its website.

Murray Energy also gave $60,000 to the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, which has launched a campaign called "Saving U.S. Coal."

The company donated $50,000 to the West Virginia Coal Association, $8,500 to the American Coal Council and $5,000 to the Kentucky Coal Association.

Murray Energy contributed about $1.9 million to the Boy Scouts of America and nearly $247,000 to the Ohio River Valley Council of Boy Scouts. Another nearly $690,000 went to an Evangelical church in Ohio, and $100,000 was given to the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland.

Over the two years, the coal producer gifted $30,000 to the American Heart Association, $34,000 to the Ohio Cancer Research Associates and $125,000 to The Ohio State University Foundation.