December 14, 2012
Did you know the coal industry and coal-related activities cost Virginia $22 million more than was paid by those businesses in taxes, fees and other revenue in fiscal year 2009? According a report released this week by the environmental consulting group, Downstream Strategies, the coal industry can be expected to impose a net cost on Virginia's taxpayers in most years.
How else could Virginia spend $22 million dollars? According a report by The Commonwealth Institute, in January 2012, Governor Bob McDonnell proposed cutting $12.5 million to local social services offices, $7.9 million to self-sufficiency programs for families in need and $2.4 million to individual care services for elderly Virginians. Those are just a few ways we could help Virginians by ending subsidies to the coal industry.
The report by Downstream Strategies is just more evidence that Virginia needs a 21st century economy, especially the "coal counties" in the Southwest. For decades, elected officials have bent to the will of the coal industry and now the regions where coal is mined are suffering the consequences.
It's time for Virginia to stop subsidizing the coal industry and start investing in solutions for tomorrow. Let's implement solutions, like ending wasteful tax breaks for the coal industry, providing funds for reclamation and water treatment of abandoned mines, and requiring responsible accounting procedures of the coal industry to better inform governmental decision-making. These recommendations, among others, could add $320 million over the next 20 years for vital community economic development projects.
Governor McDonnell's budget will be released on Monday (December 17). Call him at 804-786-2211 and tell him to start holding the coal industry accountable and end wasteful tax breaks for the industry! Don't have time to call? Write a letter to the editor of your local paper on this issue. We can make a difference and hold the coal industry accountable.