Blackhawk Mining is slated Friday to make a pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing that the Kentucky-based coal producer says will cut 60% of its debt and enable $150 million in new financing.

Why it matters: It's the latest in a string of coal company bankruptcies, which began before President Trump's tenure but have picked up lately. They signal the challenge he faces in making good on pledges to revive the sector.

Where it stands: Here's a tally of what the firm S&P Global Market Intelligence calls major U.S. coal company bankruptcies since the start of 2017...

  • Blackjewel, July 1, 2019
  • Cambrian Holding, June 16, 2019
  • Cloud Peak Energy, May 10, 2019
  • Trinity Coal, March 4, 2019
  • Mission Coal, Oct. 14, 2018
  • Westmoreland Coal, Oct. 9, 2018
  • Armstrong Energy, Nov. 1, 2017

But, but, but: While the industry's long-term decline in power markets is well-known, it doesn't explain all the problems in the wider industry that's facing significant debt.

  • For one thing, Blackhawk and some others who filed for bankruptcy produce metallurgical coal used in steelmaking.

What's next: Wood Mackenzie coal analyst Tony Knutson says that "we expect Blackhawk will make it through restructuring without any issues."

  • "The market is better. It's OK domestically and on a little bit of a downswing right now in Europe and globally, but it is definitely a lot stronger than any of the thermal markets," he tells me.

Go deeper, via S&P Global: Met coal producer Blackhawk Mining filing for a bankruptcy court restructuring

Go deeper

The apocalypse scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.

Federal judge rules Trump administration can't end census early

Census workers outside Lincoln Center in New York. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled late Thursday that the Trump administration could not end the 2020 census a month early.

Why it matters: The decision states that an early end — on Sept. 30, instead of Oct. 31 — would likely produce inaccuracies and thus impact political representation and government funding around the country.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Where bringing students back to school is most risky

Data: Coders Against COVID; Note: Rhode Island and Puerto Rico did not meet minimum testing thresholds for analysis. Values may not add to 100% due to rounding; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Schools in Southern and Midwestern states are most at risk of coronavirus transmission, according to an analysis by Coders Against COVID that uses risk indicators developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The big picture: Thankfully, schools have not yet become coronavirus hotspots, the Washington Post reported this week, and rates of infection are lower than in the surrounding communities. But that doesn't mean schools are in the clear, especially heading into winter.

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