Coal Tattoo

Will W.Va. look for some other baskets?


Photo by Kenny Kemp

There’s a new white paper out from Downstream Strategies that summarizes some of their previous findings and recommendations (see here, here, here and here) about the place West Virginia coalfield residents find themselves in.

It’s called, “All of our eggs in one basket?” and among its key messages are:

Among the key messages:

For years, we have known that Central Appalachian coal production was going to decrease dramatically. And it has.

Coal production is falling fast in southern West Virginia, but staying stable in northern West Virginia. This is significantly impacting coal-dependent communities in southern West Virginia.

This is a statewide issue. Severance tax revenues from the coal industry are declining, and increased revenues from the natural gas industry have not fully made up the difference.

The General Revenue Fund relies heavily on severance tax revenues.

Recent budgets have overestimated expected revenues from severance taxes, including the first three months of fiscal year 2016.

Their conclusion:

For years, we have known that coal production was likely to drop significantly in southern West Virginia, and that coal
production will likely continue to decline in the future. Now that these projections are coming true, the state is grappling
with fewer jobs, bankrupt companies, and declining severance tax revenues.

Together, these present unprecedented challenges not just for southern West Virginia counties, but also for the state as a

New approaches are needed.