Chris Cline in his study
July 5, 1958
Beckley, West Virginia, U.S.
|Net worth||US$1.9 billion (2015)|
Christopher "Chris" Cline (born July 5, 1958) is an American mining entrepreneur and philanthropist. As of March 2013, he is the majority owner of privately held Foresight Reserves LP, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. Regarded by Bloomberg as the New King Coal, Cline is considered responsible for reviving the Illinois coal industry. His company has more than three billion tons of coal reserves across Illinois and the Northern Appalachia. According to Forbes, Cline has a net worth of $1.7 billion, ranking 78th among America's richest and in the Forbes list #736 and in 2013 #371.
Cline's grandfather mined for coal with a pickax around Beckley, West Virginia in the early 20th century. At the age of six, Cline's father, Paul, asked him to fill a paper bag with dirt, paying him a penny for each bag. Cline dug the dirt from under the porch of their bungalow in Isaban, West Virginia. His father used the dirt bags in mine-blasting. Within two years, their porch had collapsed. According to Cline, his father had told him to "support the roof better". In 1980, Cline's father bought out his partner then gave the shares to Cline, who was then 21 years old. At that time, he was studying psychology at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.
Breast cancer claimed Cline's first wife, Sabrina, in 1987. He remarried in 1993, but the relationship with his second wife, Kelly, ended in divorce in 2000. Cline, who has two sons and two daughters, owns a 33,413-square-foot (3,104.2 m2) mansion in North Palm Beach, Florida, and a home in his native Beckley, West Virginia, where his 150-acre (0.61 km2) property contains a lake, a go-kart track and pastures for his horses, goats and llamas.
Cline owns the 164-foot (50 m) luxury yacht Mine Games. Mine Games, which has five staterooms and has its own submarine, was designed and built by Gulf Coast-based Trinity Yachts, owned by entrepreneur and philanthropist Felix Sabates.
On May 26, 2011, the School of Medicine and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics of West Virginia University received a US$5 million donation from Cline through his Cline Family Foundation. The donation also created the Christopher Cline Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery.
On July 20, 2011, Marshall University received a donation of $5 million from the Cline Family Foundation for sports medicine research. The donation was announced during a fundraising event held at Cline's Beckley home. 
Threats against family
On August 20, 2012, aspiring actor Vivek Shah was arrested for the attempted extortion of Chris Cline, Harvey Weinstein, and three other unnamed individuals. On or around June 26, 2012, Shah threatened to kill members of Cline's family if $13 million was not wired to an offshore bank account. A seven-count felony indictment against Shah was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles during the last week in September 2012, and in 2013 he was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Illinois coal holdings
Illinois holds a 250-year supply of coal, providing the state with the largest recoverable coal reserve in the United States. The state's coal industry is valued at almost $1 billion, with coal mining operations across 12 counties. One pound of Illinois coal, described as bituminous, can produce one kilowatt-hour of electricity. Cline, spending $300 million on mining rights and equipment in Illinois, had foreseen that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would require power plants to use scrubbers in removing pollutants. Illinois coal has too much sulfur to be safely burned by most power plants.
In 2005, Foresight Energy built its Williamson longwall mining operation south of West Frankfort in Illinois. Eventually, the coal mining division of the Cline Group acquired Exxonmobil's Monterey No. 1 mine, and developed Sugar Camp, Hillsboro, and the Macoupin complex.
SNL Financial reported in 2008 that Deer Run coal mine in Montgomery County, Illinois, a project of Cline's Hillsboro Energy LLC, would produce up to 8 million tons annually until 2016. In the same report, representatives for Cline said that he was aiming for an annual coal production of 60 million tons from Illinois alone.
Promoting coal for cheap power
Cline said that humankind will benefit more from cheap and abundant energy than from overreacting to what he calls minimal increases so far in atmospheric CO2 and the level of the world’s oceans. In an interview with Bloomberg, Cline said "As far as the social acceptability of coal, I like to think I’m part of supplying the cheapest energy in America."
- "Christopher Cline". Forbes. 2012-04-18. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- "Contact Foresight Energy". Foresight.com. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
- Lippert, John (October 12, 2010). "New King Coal". Bloomberg Markets Magazine (Bloomberg L.P.). Retrieved June 23, 2011.
Chris Cline became a billionaire by betting on a dirty fuel the world can’t get enough of. With maps of 675 square miles of his Illinois mines before him, Chris Cline recalls the moment he knew the coal in those mines would be worth billions of dollars.
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- Forbes http://www.forbes.com/profile/christopher-cline/. Missing or empty
- Lippert, John (2010-10-12). "Cline Talking Clean as Coal Mines Supply Most Energy Since 1970". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
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- "Trinity Yachts". Trinity Yachts. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
- "Thumbs up: Cline donation is a big boost for Marshall". The Herald Dispatch. July 26, 2011. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
- "WVU academics receive $5,000,000 gift from Cline family.". Wvutoday.wvu.edu. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
- "Cline Family Foundation makes $5 million gift to Marshall University for sports medicine research" (Press release). Marshall.edu. July 20, 2011. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
- "Million-Dollar Donors in the 2016 Presidential Race". New York Times. 25 August 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- Time Waster. "Man Busted In Harvey Weinstein Extortion Plot". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- Time Waster. "Vivek Shah Affidavit". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- Dillon, Nancy (September 12, 2013). "Man sentenced to 7 years for extortion plot against Harvey Weinstein, others". New York Daily News. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
- "Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity–Coal". Commerce.state.il.us. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
- "Coal in Illinois" (PDF). Illinois Department of Commerce. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
- "Foresight Energy Invests in Illinois". Coalage.com. 2010-12-07. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
- Cassell, Barry (January 9, 2008). "Cline's Deer Run coal mine to produce up to 8 million tons per year". SNL. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
- Rushton, Bruce (July 17, 2010). "Activists raise concerns about coal mine slurry injection in Illinois". The State Journal-Register. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
- Landis, Tim (April 25, 2011). "Deer Run producing 'development coal'". The State Journal-Register. Retrieved March 20, 2012.