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Alpha Natural files for bankruptcy protection

Alpha Natural Resources is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the fourth big coal producer to do so within the last two years.

The company operates about 60 coal mines throughout Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Wyoming. Coal prices have plunged in recent years as utilities have switched increasingly to natural gas, partly because of price, but also because of changing regulations.

President Barack Obama on Monday was expected to announce plans for even steeper greenhouse gas cuts from U.S. power plants.

Alpha Natural Resources Inc., based in Bristol, Virginia, made its bankruptcy filing with United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond. The company said that it will promptly seek the necessary relief from the court that will allow its normal business operations to continue uninterrupted.