Long before Robert E. Murray garnered nationwide attention as the owner of the Utah mine that collapsed trapping six employees inside, the businessman had made a name for himself as an activist on coal-related issues.
Murray — president and chief executive officer of Murray Energy Corp., which has a 50 percent stake in the Crandall Canyon mine, and a self-proclaimed man who fights for “the little guy that nobody cares about" — testified before the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures of the House Committee on Ways and Means in 2001 on how changes in the federal tax laws could enhance energy production and use.
In his statement to the committee, Murray said energy production and use could be enhanced by investment and production tax credits which could accelerate commercialization of clean coal technologies both in existing and new electric power generating facilities; the elimination of the alternative minimum tax; and other tax-code changes that could encourage domestic uranium production and processing.
A 2007 editorial in The New York Sun described the mining executive as “one of the few CEOs brave enough to challenge the militant climate control movement that threatens the future of America's economy.”
That piece detailed Murray's appearance at the New York Coal Trade Association’s 94th annual banquet.
“Murray was a coal miner in Ohio who survived two mining accidents and built funds from a mortgaged house into a private coal mining company with more than 3,000 employees," the piece says. "He expresses concern about the proposals in Congress that will ration the use of coal, warning of much worse adverse consequences to Americans than those experienced after the 1990 amendment of the Clean Air Act.”
Still, others are less pleased by words and actions of the 2000 American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (AIME) president.
A writer for the Huffington Post blasted Murray in June, saying his company “is notorious for safety violations and union-busing” and people like him “are literally driving humanity toward a cliff.”
Murray has also made his opinion of environmental leaders such as former Vice President Al Gore clear, saying the Oscar winner for "An Inconvenient Truth" is "more dangerous than his global warming."
Murray said in a press conference Tuesday it would take three days, if everything goes right, to get to the trapped Utah miners and if the miners are alive, they would have plenty of air because oxygen naturally leaks into the mine.
Utah's Intermountain Power Agency owns the other 50 percent of the Crandall Canyon mine.