Alpha Natural Resources
|This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of coal and power industry data|
- On June 1, 2011 Alpha Natural Resources completed the acquisition of Massey Energy
- For details on the April 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster see the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster article.
Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) is America's third-largest coal producer, with production capacity of nearly 126 million tons of steam and metallurgical coal. Steam coal is primarily purchased by large utilities and industrial customers as fuel for electricity generation and manufacturing, and metallurgical coal is used primarily to make coke for steel. ANR produces, processes, and sells steam and metallurgical coal from more than from approximately 150 active mines and 40 coal preparation plants located throughout Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. (The company's 2010 annual report stated that after the takeover of Massey Energy in mid-2011 the number of active mines would jump from 66 to 110. The discrepancy between the company's figures of 110 mines in the 2010 annual report and 150 on the website is not readily apparent.)
In 2010, nearly 60% of Alpha's coal production came from its two huge surface mines in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming: the Belle Ayr Mine and the Eagle Butte Mine, which together added up to just under 49 million tons in 2010. The company states that approximately 86% of its 2010 sales of 84.8 million tons of coal was steam coal for utilities and industrial customer of electricity generation. In 2010 its coal revenues were 3.5 billion.
In 2011, following the Massey takeover, the Rainforest Action Network ranked Alpha as the single largest mountain top removal company in the country, responsible for fully 25% of coal production from MTR mines."
Access Alpha Natural Resources' corporate rap sheet compiled and written by Good Jobs First here.
Growing big, fast with merger mania
Alpha Natural Resources was founded in 2002 by "members of management and by affiliates" of First Reserve Corporation, a private equity firm. In December 2002 it bought the "majority of the Virginia coal operations" of the Pittston Coal Company, a subsidiary of The Brink's Company. The following month it bought the Coastal Coal Company, and less than two months later, in mid-March 2003, Alpha bought the U.S. coal production and marketing operations of American Metals and Coal International. In November the same year it bought Mears Enterprises, and affiliated entities.
The pace of mergers barely let up. In April 2004 Alpha bought the Moravian Run Reclamation Company "including four active surface mines and two additional surface mines under development" and the following month a "coal preparation plant and railroad loading facility located in Portage, Pennsylvania and related equipment and coal inventory from Cooney Bros. Coal Company and an adjacent coal refuse disposal site from a Cooney family trust."
In October 2005 Alpha bought the Nicewonder Coal Group including three surface mines and a road construction and coal recovery business in southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia. Then in May the following year Alpha bought a number of coal mining operations in eastern Kentucky from Progress Fuels Corporation. All up, in just three years Alpha had bought coal operations with 73 million tons of coal reserves.
For a while the pace of takeovers slowed. Then in June 2008 Alpha bought the Mingo Logan-Ben Creek coal mining assets in West Virginia from Arch Coal Inc. A little over a year later, in July 2009, Alpha took over Foundation Coal Holdings Inc. With the completion of the deal in just seven years Alpha had become the third-largest coal company in America.
On January 29, 2011, Alpha announced it agreed to buy Massey Energy for $7.1 billion, creating a company with 110 mines and combined coal reserves of 5 billion tons. Alpha Natural Resources' chief executive said the planned $7.1 billion buyout of Massey will create a "global company" built on exporting U.S. coal for steelmakers. On June 1, 2011, shareholders approved Alpha Natural Resources’ $7.1 billion purchase of Massey Energy, creating the nation’s largest metallurgical coal company.
In August 2011 the board of Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (ANR) approved the repurchase of $600 million worth of common share. The company sought to increase shareholder value and demonstrate its capital position after its $7.1 billion acquisition of Massey Energy Co.
While Alpha may have global aspirations, its current production is solely from mines in the US. However, in 2010 approximately 35% of its coal revenues combined with freight and handling revenues came from sales outside the US, largely to buyers in Brazil, Italy, India, Turkey and Ukraine. In March 2011, Alpha Natural Resources announced that, in response to the increase in demand for metallurgical and thermal coal in Asia, it planned to establish new offices in Sydney, Australia and New Delhi, India. The offices are expected to open by mid-2011.
Purchase of Massey Energy
Massey put itself up for sale in November 2010 after posting a wider-than-expected third-quarter loss, attributed to the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, an explosion that killed 29 miners in April 2010. Massey shares lost more than half their value, hitting a low of $25.87 in July 2010. Shares bounced back above pre-explosion levels after reports that the company would likely be acquired, which increased with the departure of Chief Executive Don Blankenship at the end of 2010, who had reportedly been opposed to selling the company. Morgan Stanley was lead adviser for Alpha on the $7.1 billion buyout, with Citigroup also advising the company. Perella Weinberg and UBS advised Massey on the sale. Alpha obtained $3.3 billion in committed financing from Morgan Stanley and Citi, which it plans to use, along with its existing cash balance, to pay for the cash portion of the deal as well as refinance some debt of both companies.
On May 25, 2011, a group of Massey Energy shareholders filed a petition with the West Virginia Supreme Court, seeking to stop the $8.5 billion transaction that would make Massey part of Alpha Natural Resources. In similar lawsuits filed in West Virginia and Delaware district courts, lawyers for Massey shareholder groups argue that top Massey executives and board members arranged the sale to avoid personal liability for the deaths of the 29 miners killed in the Upper Big Branch explosion; that the proposed buyout greatly undervalued Massey; and that Alpha and Massey had not disclosed the complete motivation for and history of the proposed deal to shareholders.
Documents in the Delaware lawsuit also showed that Alpha CEO Kevin Crutchfield was prepared to provide Massey's former, controversial chief executive, Don Blankenship, with a job as an Alpha consultant. The records also showed that experts who examined Massey as part of Alpha's "due diligence" for the transaction found major problems with Massey's safety practices and the company's management, with one Alpha document stating: "The entire Massey organization appears to be managed by an autocratic central command and control structure." The documents allege that the mine disaster has reduced Massey's economic value by more than $1 billion, along with more than $165 million in out-of-pocket costs and $320 million in lost coal revenues.
On May 31, 2011, Justices announced their 3-0 vote (with Justices Davis and Benjamin disqualified) declining to issue the requested injunction. However, the justices also voted to unseal at least certain documents in the case, as had been requested in a legal motion filed by the Charleston Gazette and NPR. Unsealed documents filed with the West Virginia Supreme Court showed that lawyers for Massey Energy shareholders alleged that Alpha Natural Resources]] CEO Kevin Crutchfield made a secret deal to hire key Massey executives linked to the [[Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. Ken Ward Jr. wrote that "faced with the prospect of a hostile takeover by Alpha and loss of control of the company’s internal investigation and its exculpatory ‘supernatural cause of the explosion … the board, led by Defendant [Bobby] Inman, entered into a secret pact with Alpha CEO Kevin Crutchfield that the Massey Energy officers who were directing the internal investigation would be promised high-ranking positions within the post-merger company. Not coincidentally, the Massey Energy officers in charge of the internal investigation are the ones most culpable for the Upper Big Branch explosion … Defendants have hidden these and other key facts from the company’s shareholders, who are scheduled to vote on the merger at a special meeting set for June 1, 2011, by issuing a materially false and misleading Proxy statement."
On June 1, 2011, shareholders approved Alpha Natural Resources’ $7.1 billion purchase of Massey Energy, creating the nation’s largest metallurgical coal company.
As a result of the merger, Alpha stated in their 2010 annual report that the company's proven and probably coal reserves on land they owned or leased would jump from approximately 2.3 billion to 5.1 billion.
Alpha topped the list of a 2012 RepRisk report on the world's "most controversial" mining firms, which compares company performances against the UN Global Compact and other environmental, social, and governance principles. RepRisk wrote that Alpha qualified for the number one spot after its 2011 purchase of the leading mountaintop removal coal producer Massey Energy, had a well-documented history of appalling health and safety abuses, fraud, and environmental violations. Alpha now far outleads other US companies in total number of MTR mines and mine safety violations.
Coal seam fracking deal
In February 2010 Alpha entered into a 50/50 joint venture with Rice Energy to develop "a portion" of its 20,000 acres of land in south-west Pennsylvania underlain by Marcellus Shale. In announcing its 2009 results Alpha stated that "the initial phase of development is underway, and we are currently drilling the first of four wells planned for 2010. Rice Energy brings technical and managerial expertise with extensive experience drilling and fracturing wells in the Marcellus, and this partnership enables Alpha to capture value from our Marcellus shale asset without diverting focus away from our coal business."
In its 2010 annual report Alpha states that, through its Alpha Terminal Company subsidiary, it holds a 41% interest in Dominion Terminal Associates (DTA) which operates a 20 million-ton a year coal export terminal in Newport News, Virginia. Alpha states that it shipped a total of 2.2 million tons of coal through the terminal in 2010. The terminal, which was constructed in 1984, is held in a partnership with subsidiaries of Arch Coal and Peabody Energy.
The Rainforest Action Network estimated that in 2010 Alpha mined 15.595 million tons of coal from mountaintop removal in 2010 and that it got 36.4% of its Central Appalachian coal by the method. (Note: The 2010 data pre-dates the company's takeover of Massey. The 2010 data for Massey was that it mined 14.6 million tons of coal by mountaintop removal, accounting for 47.6% of its production.)
In its 2010 annual report Alpha bemoaned that "mountaintop removal mining is a legal but controversial method of surface mining." "Certain anti-mining special interest groups," the company complained, "are waging a public relations assault upon this mining method and are encouraging the introduction of legislation at the state and federal level to restrict or ban it and to preclude purchasing coal mined by this method. Should changes in laws, regulations or availability of permits severely restrict or ban this mining method in the future, our production and associated profitability could be adversely impacted."
The campaign against mountaintop mining, Alpha conceded was having the effect of increasing the risks and potential costs associated with continuation of the practice. "In recent years, the permitting required for coal mining, particularly under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act and the Clean Water Act to address filling ephemeral and intermittent streams and other valleys with materials from mountaintop coal mining operations and preparation plant refuse disposal has been the subject of increasingly stringent regulatory and administrative requirements and extensive litigation by environmental groups against coal mining companies and environmental regulatory authorities," Alpha stated in its 2010 annual report.
"Congress has also considered legislation to impose additional limitations on surface mining. It is unclear at this time how the issues will ultimately be resolved, but for this as well as other issues that may arise involving permits necessary for coal mining and other operation, such requirements could prove costly and time-consuming, and could delay commencing or continuing exploration or production operations. New laws and regulations, as well as future interpretations or different enforcement of existing laws and regulations, may require substantial increases in equipment and operating costs to us and delays, interruptions or a termination of operations, the extent of which we cannot predict."
2008 Poll shows Amerians oppose mountaintop removal
The results of nationwide poll on mountaintop removal conducted in October 2008 showed that Americans oppose mountaintop removal coal mining by a wide margin. Researchers questioned 1,000 likely voters nationwide. Half the participants were asked if they supported or opposed mountaintop removal, without any additional information on the subject. 39 percent opposed mountaintop removal, versus 15 percent who supported it. 46 percent were undecided. The other half of partipants were given a short definition of mountaintop removal; of these voters, 61 percent opposed mountaintop removal, versus 16 percent who supported it. 23 percent were undecided. Other findings included:
- Opposition to mountaintop removal was highest in the Northeast, where 79 percent of people polled were against it. In the South, which included the biggest eastern coal states of Kentucky and West Virginia, opposition was 59 percent.
- By a margin of more than 2 to 1, voters polled disagreed that environmental protections are bad for jobs and business. 47 percent believed environmental protections are good for the economy, versus 20 percent who believed such protections are bad for the economy.
- Two-thirds of Americans are against the repeal of the stream buffer zone rule, which bans mining activities within 100 feet of streams.
The Rainforest Action Network notes that in 2010 "property owners in West Virginia sued the company for subsidence damage and ruined groundwater due to 'reprehensible, intentional, and grossly negligent' conduct in mining operations."
On July 16, 2012, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, and Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against Alpha Natural Resources Inc. over selenium pollution in Logan, McDowell, Boone, and Kanawha counties in West Virginia, saying the company is violating the federal Clean Water Act and state-issued discharge permits. The claim asks for a judge to order the operations to comply, and fine Alpha as much as $37,500 per day of violation, some of which date to 2007. They also seek monitoring and sampling to determine the extent of the environmental damage, and a cleanup and restoration order.
The affected mines are: Alex Energy's Whitman No. 2 Surface Mine; Aracoma Coal Co.'s Camp Branch Mine; Bandmill Coal Corp.'s Tower Mountain Mine; Highland Mining Co.'s Freeze Fork Surface Mine; Independence Coal's Twilight Surface Mine; Jack's Branch Lady Dunn Preparation Plant, Hughes Creek Surface mine, and Stockton Mine; and Kanawha Energy's Fourmile Fork Mine.
In May 2012, the three groups sued two Alpha subsidiaries over the same issue. That case involved Independence Coal's Crescent No. 2 Surface Mine in Boone County and Marfork Coal's 7-billion-gallon Brushy Fork coal sludge impoundment in Raleigh County.
Alpha settled a similar lawsuit with the same three groups in December 2011, ending a fight over three other mines. That plan called for a $50 million cleanup effort and fines at the Twilight and Red Cedar operations in Boone County and the Kanawha Division along the Kanawha-Fayette county line.
Massey/Alpha Coal Mines
- Alex 1 Mine
- Aracoma Alma Mine 1
- Bee Tree Mine
- Black Castle Surface Mine
- Brushy Eagle Mine
- Camp Branch Mine
- Cedar Grove Mine
- Delbarton Mine
- Diamond Energy Mine
- Edwight Surface Mine
- Elk Run Mine
- Freeze Fork Surface Mine
- Grassy Creek Mine 1
- Green Valley Mine
- Guyandotte Mine
- Hernshaw Mine
- Horse Creek Eagle Mine
- Independence Complex
- Jerry Fork Eagle Mine
- Justice Mine
- Logan County Complex
- Mammoth Mine
- Marfork Complex
- Nicholas Energy
- Progress Energy Complex
- Rawl Complex
- Red Cedar Surface Mine
- Republic Energy Mine
- Roundbottom Powellton Deep Mine
- Ruby Energy Mine
- Stirrat Mine
- Superior Surface Mine
- Tower Mountain Mine
- Twilight MTR Surface Mine
- Upper Big Branch Mine South
- White Queen Mine
- Clean Energy Mine 1
- Freedom Mine 1 (KY)
- Long Fork
- Martin County Mine
- New Ridge Mine
- Rockhouse Mine 1
- Sidney Mine
- Solid Energy Mine
- Taylor Fork Energy Mine
Alpha Natural Resources wins BLM Powder River Basin coal lease bid
It was announced in August 2011 that Alpha Natural Resources outbid Peabody Energy for a coal mining lease from the Bureau of Land Management in the Powder River Basin. An Alpha subsidiary bid $143.4 million for a tract containing 130.1 million tons of coal, inching out a Peabody subsidiary’s $127.6 million bid. Alpha agreed to pay $1.10 per ton of mineable coal which was a record for the Powder River Basin. The lease is located in a 1,024-acre area known as the Caballo West tract. Alpha's leased tract is situated eight miles southeast of Gillette, Wyoming between Peabody’s Caballo Mine to the north and Alpha’s Belle Ayr Mine to the south.
Discussions with Coal India
It was announced in November 2010 that Coal India was in talks with Peabody Energy and Massey Energy about acquiring two of the companies' mines. Coal India has budgeted $1.2 billion to buy assets in the U.S., Indonesia and Australia during the year ending March 2011 as it battles a widening gap between domestic coal supply and demand.
Proposed coal mines
- Reylas Mine (West Virginia)
Idled and closed mines
On February 3, 2012, Alpha said it will idle four mines immediately and two others by early 2013. A total of 10 mining operations will be affected, four in eastern Kentucky and six in southern West Virginia, reducing annual coal production by about 4 million tons annually from the company's 120 million tons a year production capacity.
In June 2012 Alpha Natural Resources revealed plans to reduce its coal mining operations in Kentucky. Alpha said it was permanently closing its Superior Surface Mine, the Hatfield underground mine, and the Stirrat prep plant in Logan County. It was also scaling back production at the Black Castle Surface Mine in Boone County and the Republic Surface Mine. According to the AP: "The decisions are driven by a combination of low demand and low coal prices as consumption of cheap natural gas grows. [Alpha spokesperson Ted] Pile said new estimates on the number of coal-fired power plants being retired also rose this week, while coal stockpiles are at near-record levels."
On September 18, 2012, Alpha said it was immediately closing eight mines in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, cutting production by 16 million tons. They are a mix of deep and surface mines, all non-union operations. To meet the production cut the company said it will use a combination of mine and equipment idlings, production curtailments, and "mining out reserves" through early 2013. Alpha plans to shift its operations away from thermal coal used in domestic power generation to concentrate on metallurgical coal used in steelmaking overseas. Altogether, the firm idled four mines in West Virginia, three in Virginia, and one in Pennsylvania:
In West Virginia: the Alloy deep mine near Powellton, and the Alloy surface mine near Boomer, both in Fayette County; and the Premium highwall mine at Gilbert, and the White Flame Surface mine near Wharncliffe, in Mingo County.
In Virginia: Guest Mountain deep mines No. 8 and No. 9 near Norton, and the Twin Star Surface Mine near Hurley.
In Pennsylvania: Dora deep mine in Jefferson County.
August 2011: Tree-Sit on Coal River Mountain
On July 20, 2011, protesters associated with the RAMPS Campaign halted blasting on a portion of Alpha Natural Resources’ Bee Tree Mine mountaintop removal mine by ascending two trees and hanging banners that read “Stop Strip Mining” and “For Judy Bonds” in honor of the strip mining activist. The activists demand that Alpha Natural Resources stop strip mining on Coal River Mountain and that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection prohibit future strip mining in the Coal River Watershed. As of January 2011, Marfork Coal Company, a subsidiary of Alpha, has destroyed about 75 acres of Coal River Mountain on the Bee Tree permit, the only active mountaintop removal permit on the mountain. Lisa Henderson, Judy Bonds’ daughter and Coal River Valley resident, said she saw the action as a continuation of her mother’s work.
On July 27, 2011 it was reported that that two tree-sit activists, Junior Walk and Eli Schewel, were arrested by state police on the first day of the tree-sit protest and charged with trespassing at the Bee Tree surface mine site. It was reported on August 3, 2011 that Becks Kolins, who had been occupying a tree in protest, descended the tree voluntarily and was arrested a day earlier by the West Virginia State Police. Kolins, along with Catherine-Ann MacDougal, had been sitting in a tree eighty feet above the ground since July 20th to protest the strip mining of Coal River Mountain. 
Catherine-Ann MacDougal remained in her tree remained in her tree until August 19, 2011 at which point she descended. “The reality of limited resources now necessitates my descent but this is not the last they will see of us. I plan to remain here and fight for this mountain for years to come,” said MacDougal.
August 2011: Environmental groups sue BLM over coal leases in Wyoming
It was announced on August 23, 2011 that three environmental groups are suing the Bureau of Land Management over the agency's decision to allow Alpha Natural Resources to mine a tract at the Caballo Mine containing 130.1 million tons of coal for $143.4 million along with one other lease the BLM approved, including the Belle Ayr Mine tract which contains 130.1 million tons of coal and is operated by Peabody Energy. WildEarth Guardians, Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife. The groups contended the BLM did not properly conduct its assessment of the environmental impacts of the proposed operation.
The groups contend that the coal from the tracts is enough to fuel 152 coal-fired power plants and would release 643 million tons of carbon dioixide, or the same amount as that released by 111.7 million passenger vehicles a year, using EPA calculations.
July 2012: Environmental groups take legal action against Alpha Natural Resources to Protect Waterways from Coal Pollution
On July 16, 2012 a coalition of citizen and environmental groups sued Alpha Natural Resources from nine different West Virginia coal mining facilities. The groups contested that the mines, located in Logan, McDowell, Boone and Kanawha counties, all violated the Clean Water Act.
The groups bringing the action, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and Sierra Club, sought to make Alpha Natural Resources install protections at these sites in the effort to improve the quality of West Virginia waterways.
Alpha and Unions
In its 2010 annual report Apha Natural Resources states that "approximately 87% of our 2010 coal production came from mines operated by union-free employees. As of December 31, 2010, approximately 79% of our workforce is union-free." Alpha notes that under the National Labor Relations Act employees have the right to form or affiliate with a union and cautions investors that "any further unionization of our employees, or the employees of third-party contractors who mine coal for us, could adversely affect the stability of our production and reduce our profitability."
Health and Safety
Discover Which Corporations are the Biggest Violators of Environmental, Health and Safety Laws in the United States
Violation Tracker is the first national search engine on corporate misconduct covering environmental, health, and safety cases initiated by 13 federal regulatory agencies. Violation Tracker is produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First. Click here to access Violation Tracker.
Safety violations in US mines
In 2011, coal mines operated by Alpha Natural Resources Inc. were assessed more proposed fines for federal safety and health violations than all other major public coal companies combined, according to an SNL Energy analysis of annual safety and health data (included in companies’ 10-K SEC filings). Alpha received nearly $33 million in proposed fines, although the report noted that in 2011 Alpha operated the most coal mines of any U.S. public coal company.
In its 2010 annual report, Alpha Natural Resources reported that in the year to December 31, 2010 the company received 1,453 notices of violations -- over 4 a day -- from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) under section 104 of the Mine Act. Section 104 provides for citations to be issued for "health or safety standards that could significantly and substantially contribute to a serious injury if left unabated." The company does not explicitly identify each mine in the table in its annual report, including only the cryptic MSHA mine ID number and the name of the Alpha company which operated the mine. The worst offending mine -- identified only as MSHA ID number 4605121 and a subsidiary of Rockspring Development Inc -- recorded 242 section 104 violations and total fines of $746,280 in 2010. Alpha notes that the total amount of fines proposed by the MSHA was $3.27 million in 2010. Despite the significant number of violations Alpha boasts that "our subsidiaries received no written notice of a pattern of violations under Section 104(e) of the Mine Act, nor the potential to have such a pattern during the current reporting period."
Cases pending before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
In its 2010 annual report Alpha lists 355 legal actions pending before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission which can hear and review legal disputes originating under the Mine Act. These actions can include challenges by companies against citations, orders and penalties made by the Mine Safety and Health Administration or complaints of discrimination by miners.
Coal mining disasters
In 2007, two miners — 48-year-old James David Thomas and 33-year-old Pete Poindexter — died when a piece of mine roof that measured 8 feet by 9 feet by 18 inches thick fell on them at Alpha’s Brooks Run Mining subsidiary’s Cucumber Mine in McDowell County. The section foreman, Richard Baugh, narrowly escaped being killed. In their final report on that incident, MSHA investigators concluded: "Thomas, Poindexter, and Baugh were allowed to travel closer than the minimum safe distance of 20 feet from the MRS [mobile roof support] machines specified in the approved roof control plan. ... The accident occurred because effective safe work procedures and practices specified in the approved roof control plan were not enforced by mine management. In addition, miners were not properly trained in safe work procedures for retreat mining."
In 2009, 7 workers at subsidiary Cobra Resources’ Mountaineer Alma A Mine in Mingo County, W.Va., were trapped underground for nearly 24 hours by a serious mine flood. In its final report on that incident, MSHA concluded: "The mine’s escapeways were blocked when the surface water entered the mine, preventing seven miners from exiting the mine and entrapping them for approximately 24 hours." The MSHA report listed two primary causes for the incident:
- The mine operator did not regularly monitor and properly maintain the mine’s system of diversion ditches, designed to route storm runoff surface water away from the mine portals and into ponds constructed to handle runoff.
- The mine operator failed to monitor the portals of the underground mine where storm runoff surface water entered the portals, accumulated in a low area in the mine and blocked the primary and alternate escapeways.
Massey executive to head safety division after merger
In April 2011, it was reported that a top Massey Energy executive - Chris Adkins - who presided over the company while it compiled some of the most criticized safety records in the coal mining industry would jointly manage the main safety program at Alpha Natural Resources if the two companies merge as expected. Adkins will “spearhead the implementation” of Alpha’s main safety program, which the company refers to as “Running Right.” Adkins was COO at Massey during 2009, when four of the company’s coal mines had injury rates more than double the national average and 10 had higher-than-average rates of injury, according to an NPR analysis of federal records. Safety violations were so persistent and dangerous at Massey’s Freedom Mine 1 (KY) in Pike County, that the Labor Department sought an unprecedented federal court injunction in November 2010 that would have placed the mine under a federal judge’s supervision.
Coal Execs Invite Presidential Hopeful Jeb Bush to Closed-Door Weekend Retreat (2015)
Alpha and other coal companies invited former Florida Governor and likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush to be the keynote speaker at the 2015 Coal and Investment Leadership Forum, an invitation-only retreat that brings together coal industry executives, Republican donors, and other "stakeholders," according to an invitation obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy and reported on by The Guardian. Bush "evidently signalled his willingness to meet with industry leaders as early as February when the hosts of the coal forum – all owners and executives of coalmining companies – emailed out the first save-the-date notices," The Guardian reported.
- “It is a great opportunity to meet with stakeholders in the state,” Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for Bush, said. “He will be talking about a variety of topics.”
Bush had not yet officially declared his candidacy and was not disclosing fundraising information. "I think the major question is what promises is Jeb Bush making to the coal chief executives in that room. We assume Bush is there to raise money for his campaign [...] it is pretty clear why Jeb Bush was invited there. If Jeb Bush is elected they want him to protect their industry," Nick Surgey, research director of CMD, told The Guardian.
Others named in the 2015 invitation included Tennessee Valley Authority president Bill Johns, Christopher C. Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Energy & Environment Legal Institute, and "the owners and chief executives of coalmining and energy companies" including Alliance Resource Partners, Consol Energy, Drummond Company, Arch Coal, and United Coal Company.
According to The Guardian,
- The invitations to the three-day forum promise access to influential figures – including a potential future occupant of the White House – in a relaxed setting, with time for cocktails, golf lessons, and fishing. The $7,500 fee does not include lodging.
- "Once again, significant time will also be available for golf, fly fishing, one-on-one meetings and small VIP discussion groups, which is the hallmark of this conference," the invitation reads.
The forum was likely to touch on rules limiting carbon pollution from power plants that were announced by the EPA in 2014. Jim McGlothlin, CEO of United Coal Company, "said the executives were eager to hear what Bush said about energy – but the hour-long encounter would not be restricted to the EPA rules. 'It would be our hope that he would touch upon his general energy policies,' McGlothlin said in an email." McGlothlin also noted that the forum planned to invite additional presidential candidates in 2016.
Campaign contributions by Alpha
The Dirty Energy Money website, using data from Open Secrets, lists Alpha as having contributed $325,897 in the 2003-2010 period, of which 65% has gone to Republicans and 25% to Democrats. This comprised $200,197 in 2009/2010, $23,600 in 2007-2008, $38,900 in 2005-2006, $1,000 in 2003-2004.
Open Secrets identifies Alpha's political action committee (PAC) as having contributed, as of late July 2011, $196,395 in the 2011-2012 election cycle. Of this, 90% has gone to Republican candidates.
In the House in the 2011/12 election cycle Opensecrets lists the recipients from Alpha's PAC as being:
- Jason Altmire (D-PA) $210
- Dan Boren (D-OK) $1,000
- Eric Cantor (R-VA) $5,000
- Mark Critz (D-PA) $2,791
- Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) $2,000
- Cory Gardner (R-CO) $2,000
- Morgan Griffith (R-VA) $5,000
- Andy Harris (R-MD) $2,000
- Bill Johnson (R-OH) $5,000
- Mike Kelly (R-PA) $5,000
- Cynthia Marie Lummis (R-WY) $3,000
- David McKinley (R-WV) $10,000
- Tim Murphy (R-PA) $5,000
- Hal Rogers (R-KY) $4,500
- Bill Shuster (R-PA) $5,000
- Glenn Thompson (R-PA) $5,000
- Fred Upton (R-MI) $5,000
- Greg Walden (R-OR) $1,000
- Ed Whitfield (R-KY) $2,500
- Don Young (R-AK) $1,000
In the Senate in the 2011/12 election cycle Opensecrets lists the recipients from Alpha's PAC as being:
- John A. Barrasso (R-WY) $5,500
- Joe Donnelly (D-IN) $1,000
- Orrin Hatch (R-UT) $1,500
- Dean Heller (R-NV) $1,000
- Joe Manchin (D-WV) $2,500
- Ben Nelson (D-NE) $1,000
- Denny Rehberg, (R-MT) $2,000
Super PAC Contributions
- Alpha Natural Resources $540,000 with its registered in-house lobbyist being Richard Axthelm;
- Scherder & Associates $192,000 with its registered lobbyist for the firm being Daniel B. Scherder;
- Crane Group $80,000 with its registered lobbyists for the firm being Daniel Crane and Lucie K. Gikovich; and
For 2010 OpenSecrets lists all of the above plus McGuireWoods LLP as being paid $50,000 with its registered lobbyists for the firm being Frank Donatelli, Heather Martin, Brian Vanderbloemen and Mona Mohib.
OpenSecrets lists the issues that Alpha has lobbied on in 2011 as including:
- "Energy Policy Issues"
- "Legislation addressing climate change mitigation, including all provisions relating to the federal regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act (CAA); all provisions dealing with the classification of carbon dioxide as a pollutant; all provisions providing incentives for investment in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS); and all provisions relating to the establishment of federal cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide emissions"; and
- "General Monitoring of climate control issues."
- "Mine Safety Coal Act Issues";
- "Legislation directed at amending current safety standards and improving associated safety regulation and oversight at domestic coal production and processing facilities."
- "Legislation intended to promote the continued production and use of domestic coal resources through development of new or commercialization of existing coal technologies, including those provisions establishing federal incentives for qualifying coal-to-liquids or other alternative coal-use facilities; any provisions to establish or incentivize federal demonstration sites to advance carbon capture and storage and coal power generation technologies; and any legislative proposals to set renewable or clean energy market mandates."
Alpha Natural Resources is a member of the:
- National Mining Association
- American Coal Council. Alpha's sales division, Alpha Coal Sales, is listed as a member.
Board of Directors
- Michael J. Quillen, Chairman of the board of directors
- William J. Crowley, Jr.
- Kevin S. Crutchfield Chief Executive Officer
- E. Linn Draper, Jr.
- Glenn A. Eisenberg
- P. Michael Giftos
- Joel Richards
- James F. Roberts
- Ted G. Wood
- Brian D. Sullivan heads Alpha's office in Sydney, Australia., former senior vice president and general counsel for United Company in Bristol, will lead the Australian office.
- Suresh Iyer heads Alpha's office in New Delhi, India.
One Alpha Place,
P.O. Box 2345
Abingdon, Virginia 24212
Phone: (276) 619-4410
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- Existing U.S. Coal Plants
- "ANR: About Us" Alpha Natural Resources website, accessed July 2011.
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