An attempt by a federal agency to block a joint venture between two major coal companies was criticized by Gov. Mark Gordon on Wednesday as “wrongheaded.”
Gordon’s comments came in response to the Federal Trade Commission’s decision to file an administrative complaint challenging the joint venture between Peabody Energy Corp. and Arch Coal.
“I believe this complaint by the Federal Trade Commission is a wrongheaded attempt to drive a nail into an industry which is struggling to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace,” he said. “It could also result in significant impacts to the workforce of the North Antelope Rochelle and Black Thunder coal mines.”
The two companies announced last summer they would merge their assets in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin and in Colorado. The move was seen as a way to allow both companies to better compete in the ailing coal industry.
The FTC, in its complaint, alleges the transaction will eliminate competition between the two companies and lead to higher coal prices for power utilities and ultimately, energy consumers.
But Gordon said the complaint does not take into account the competitive forces already at work in the energy sector.
“Today’s energy marketplace is broad and includes wind, solar, natural gas, hydroelectric and geothermal, all of which have become more competitive since 2018,” he said. “The FTC appears to have ignored this fact and seems intent on extending the uncertainty facing coal companies in the Powder River Basin. I don’t believe the broader energy marketplace will benefit from a challenge to this merger.”