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Foresight Energy became on Tuesday the latest coal miner to file for bankruptcy, saying the global economic slowdown triggered by the coronavirus epidemic had pushed it over the edge.

The company, already hit by an ongoing switch to cheaper and cleaner sources of energy, said it planned to hand ownership to its creditors as part of a restructuring plan. The restructuring plan, which allows the company to stay in business, would cut debt by about $1 billion by swapping $1.4 billion of debt for equity, according to the Chapter 11 documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Louis.

The coal miner’s collapse is yet another sign of a dying industry, despite President Donald Trump’s rescue attempts. Right after taking office, he slashed environmental regulations and even installed former coal lobbyist Scott Pruitt at the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pruitt resigned in 2018, facing numerous ethics investigations.

The deregulatory push, however, has been unable to offset market forces. Coal just can’t compete with cheap natural gas and the falling cost of solar power, wind and other forms of renewable energy.

Internal demand for the fossil fuel, in turn, has hit a decades-low point with power plants expected to consume less coal next year than at any point since President Jimmy Carter was in the White House, according to official forecasts. At the same time, financial institutions are restricting thermal coal funding.

To date, over 100 global banks and insurers, including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, have announced their divestment from coal mining and/or coal-fired power plants.

[Cecilia Jamasmie]

More: Foresight latest U.S. coal miner to file for bankruptcy

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