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Peabody Energy Files for Bankruptcy

Sam A. Minkler/The Guardian

The largest coal company in the U.S., Peabody Energy, announced Wednesday that it’s filed for bankruptcy. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, Peabody has operated on the Navajo Nation since the 1960s.

The St. Louis-based company filed for Chapter 11 protection to restructure its large debt load. Peabody has struggled to cope with various technological, economic and environmental shifts in the energy industry.

Peabody operates the Kayenta Mine near the Four Corners area of the Navajo Nation, and supplies coal to the Navajo Generating Station.

Many members of the Navajo and Hopi tribes say decades of mining operations have depleted potable water supplies by tapping springs and aquifers. They also say coal mining has negatively affected public health among the tribes.

Peabody, however, says reclaiming mined lands is a focus of its operations that provide billions of dollars in economic benefits for tribal communities.

The company’s mining operations will continue as it moves through the bankruptcy process.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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