(Reuters) – US coal baron Robert Murray, whose company Murray Energy filed for bankruptcy last year, has applied for federal benefits to treat his black lung disease after opposing stricter coal dust regulations in several years, according to a report from West Virginia public radio.
Mr. Murray, an ally of President Donald Trump, filed a claim with the Department of Labor for access to federal benefits to treat his illness, caused by prolonged exposure to coal dust, Ohio Valley ReSource, a branch of National Public Radio, reported. on Thursday.
Reuters could not independently confirm the report.
The news agency said Murray wrote in his application for benefits from the fund that he is heavily dependent on an oxygen tank and is "near death." Murray said he is entitled to benefits after working in underground mines for 63 years.
Mr. Murray's company was one of several coal companies that provided collateral to insure their obligations to employees diagnosed with black lung disease. In 201
Following Bankruptcy, American Consolidated Natural Resources, Murray Energy's new name after bankruptcy, is not responsible for old claims, moving its $ 74.4 million debt to the federal government's Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, according to the Department of Labor estimates to Congress.
The Labor Department & # 39 ;s Mine Safety and Health Administration, which administers the benefits, did not respond to a request for comment.
Mike McCown, spokesman for American Consolidated, declined to comment.
The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is funded by $ 1.10 per tonne of excise duty on underground coal production but has a massive debt and risks insolvency, according to the US General Accountability Office.
The National Mining Association continues to fight to slash the tax in half.