By Mike Tony, Charleston Gazette-Mail
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday delayed a vote on a bill that would set up a mining mutual insurance company with $50 million in taxpayer money to provide alternative bonding for coal mine operators.
The House postponed action one day on Senate Bill 1, three days after a public hearing on the bill drew opposition from nearly all speakers.
SB 1’s lead sponsor, Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, has argued that the bill would be a pivotal step toward protecting the state’s Special Reclamation Fund from further financial strain as the coal industry declines.
But the bill’s critics say it would unfairly burden taxpayers while failing to address long-term issues behind potential reclamation liabilities that eventually could cost the state billions of dollars…