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Robert Murray, President of Murray Energy, talks about rescue efforts to save 6 trapped coal miners in his mine, the Crandall Canyon Mine in Huntington, Utah August 7, 2007. Photo: Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

NEW YORK — Bob Murray, CEO of coal producer Murray Energy, likened global oil and gas companies to “prostitutes,” arguing they sell whatever it takes in global markets.

Why it matters: The eyebrow-raising comment reflects the combative nature of Murray — who is close to President Trump — in the face of coal’s increasingly weak position compared to natural gas and renewable energy in the U.S.

“They're international corporations. They sell their products around the world. And it’s expedient for them to latch onto to whatever it takes in whatever countries to sell whatever their selling. They’re prostitutes. They are latching onto policies of other countries to sell things in world markets.”
Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy

The big picture: Murray made the comments to Axios on the sidelines of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York Tuesday after he delivered a speech to hundreds of executives working in industries mostly benefiting from coal’s decline, such as wind, solar and natural gas.

  • “I’m probably the only coal guy in this room,” Murray said on stage, prompting muted laughter from the crowd. He said afterwards no one has approached him to talk other than the sponsors.

One level deeper: Murray named ExxonMobil, BP and Shell as companies that fit the “prostitute” mold. Unlike Murray’s company, which he privately owns, these publicly traded traded oil and gas companies are among corporations facing increasing pressure from investors to more readily acknowledge the risks climate change and carbon regulations pose to their bottom lines. BP and Shell are also investing more in renewable energy.

For the record: Spokespeople for Shell and BP declined to comment. An Exxon spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper: The Washington Examiner has more on Murray's speech, where he implored the Energy Department to approve an emergency order keeping open economically struggling coal and nuclear power plants. Acknowledging that the department rejected a similar plea his company asked for last year, Murray told Axios afterwards that "the options are becoming fewer."

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.