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Brushing off concerns, WV House passes coal tax cut

By PHIL KABLER

Charleston Gazette-Mail

Coal miners from Marshall and Ohio counties stand in the gallery as they are recognized by the House of Delegates at the start of the floor session Wednesday.
(Gazette-Mail photo by Chris Dorst)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A two-year rollback of West Virginia’s severance tax on steam coal from 5 percent to 3 percent passed the House of Delegates by an overwhelming 88-11 margin Wednesday, despite concerns it will cost the state about $60 million a year and may not help coal compete with cheaper, cleaner alternatives, including natural gas and renewable energy sources.

Many of the bill’s proponents cited coal miners in the House galleries watching the proceedings, and evoked the state’s long history of coal mining — many referring to the deaths of relatives from mining accidents or black lung disease.

“Right now, our coal industry is struggling. It’s teetering on a crisis. This is the best thing we can do for them,” said House Finance Chairman Eric Householder, R-Berkeley.

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