By PHIL KABLER
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two bills giving tax breaks to the coal industry were among bills Gov. Jim Justice signed into law Wednesday, ahead of a midnight deadline to act on bills passed in the 2019 regular session.
Among the bills Justice signed Wednesday is legislation to provide for a three-year phase-down on the state severance tax on steam coal from 5 percent to 3 percent, ultimately costing the state about $60 million a year in lost tax revenue (HB 3142).
Although touted by the industry as a way to help make state steam coal prices competitive with out-of-state producers, economists have said the cut, at best, will only slow an ongoing decline in stream coal production and employment as electric utilities continue to convert to cheaper, cleaner forms of energy, including natural gas.
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