Murray Energy sues Charleston Gazette, coal reporter Ken Ward Jr.

The Charleston Gazette and Ken Ward Jr. — called “one of the nation’s top coal reporters” by Columbia Journalism Review — have been sued by Murray Energy for Ward’s July 18 blog post, “Mitt Romney, Murray Energy and coal criminals.”

In his post, Ward writes that “renegade coal operator Bob Murray played a major role recently in a campaign fundraiser in Wheeling, W.Va., for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney” and that “the question for Governor Romney, of course, is whether he thinks criminal behavior by coal companies, especially when it kills workers and damages the environment, is acceptable. If not, why is he buddies with Bob Murray?”

Murray’s lawsuit says Ward’s blog post takes a “false and defamatory manner implying that Plaintiffs Murray, Murray Energy, American Energy, and Ohio Valley are criminals.” It contends that “Murray has a reputation for integrity and honesty, is not a criminal, has never killed anyone, and has diligently worked to preserve the environment.”

I’ve invited Ward to comment. A subscription-required Greenwire story on the lawsuit says his “Coal Tattoo” blog “is a must-read by many people who follow the coal industry and mining” and that “the longtime reporter is known for pulling no punches in his analysis of issues related to climate change, mine safety and pollution.”

* Murray Energy sues West Virginia newspaper, reporter for libel (
* Ward on Mitt Romney, Murray Energy and coal criminals (