Coal Tattoo

Senate approves tax hike for W.Va. coal cleanup fund

We’ve got a little AP story in today’s paper about Senate passage of the bill that would increase the coal production tax that funds cleanups of West Virginia coal mines that were abandoned after 1977. Here’s the deal:

West Virginia lawmakers are considering at least one tax hike this session.

The state Senate unanimously passed a bill Monday that would increase the tax that funds the cleanup of abandoned coal mine sites. Environmental officials say West Virginia needs more money for treating water at these sites. Monday’s bill would increase the reclamation tax on processed coal from 14 cents to nearly 28 cents per ton.

Officials estimate that will increase the tax’s annual revenues from $19 million to $36 million. The water reclamation trust fund would get $20 million of that per year.

Regular readers know that West Virginia regulators, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and lawmakers are under facing a federal court lawsuit that could force an OSMRE takeover of the state’s special reclamation fund unless they come up with more money for this program. We’ve reported many times on the huge financial problems facing the state’s special reclamation program (see here, here, here and here).

You can read this particular piece of legislation here. It’s Senate Bill 579. It goes now to the House.