Arch Coal, the nation’s second-largest coal mining company, filed for bankruptcy on Monday to help shed more than $4.5 billion in debt. It throws into question the company’s current and pending projects and its effects are expected to ripple across the entire beleaguered industry.
It is the largest coal company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States, following Alpha Natural Resources in August. Patriot Coal also filed for bankruptcy in May—for the second time in three years.
The bankruptcies come as little surprise, given that coal production has sunk to its lowest level in nearly three decades, driven mainly by federal environmental regulations and increasing competition from natural gas and renewable energy. Coal prices dropped precipitously last year.