Commitment Made to Area

Business owners have to think ahead and take the big picture into account. That is what Robert Murray, founder and chief executive officer of Murray Energy Corp., was doing several years ago when he decided to construct a new office building just west of St. Clairsville.

Now about 150 company employees who formerly worked at locations scattered through several counties are housed at the new 60,000-square-foot headquarters building. Murray, however, has begun to wonder about the wisdom of such an investment.

In normal times, it would have been an excellent idea. Murray Energy and its subsidiaries operate coal mines in Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Utah. Consolidating some of the corporation’s far-flung operations simply makes sense.

But since planning for the building began, President Barack Obama’s administration has intensified its war on the coal industry and reasonably priced electricity. Already, Murray has had to close one facility, the Red Bird West Mine near Brilliant, and lay off workers at another Ohio mine. Scores of local jobs have been affected. Mining firms in this area of the country have announced plans for thousands of layoffs. Utility companies have revealed they will close dozens of coal-fired power plants and replace them with gas units.

Unless something is done to change national energy policy, thousands more coal miners will lose their jobs. Worse, tens of millions of Americans eventually will pay much more for electricity.

That said, Murray deserves enormous credit for proceeding with the new headquarters building. As we have noted previously, it represents an important commitment to the people of East Ohio. Murray Energy is to be congratulated on the facility’s completion, and commended for going ahead with it.