Sunday, December 16, 2012

Report: Coal Has Negative Impact on VA Budget

A recent report, The Impact of Coal on the Virginia State Budget released by Downstream Strategies, takes an in-depth look the costs and benefits of the coal industry in the Commonwealth. While coal plays a fairly small role in the overall Virginia economy, it does contribute revenues and provide jobs in the southwestern part of the state, primarily in Wise and Buchanan counties. Coal production in the state peaked in 1990 when it represented about 4.5% of the total U.S. output. Since then Virginia's contribution has declined to 2.2% of national output mostly because of a reduction in underground mining. Destructive mountaintop removal coal mining, which is cheaper and requires fewer employees, has increased 23% since 1990 but has declined some in recent years.

So, what is the impact of the coal industry on Virginia's budget? Downstream Strategies' report concludes:
Overall, when taking all revenues and expenditures into account, we estimate that the total net impact of the coal industry on the Virginia state budget in Fiscal Year 2009 amounted to a net cost to the Commonwealth of $21.9 million.
Of course, this net cost to the Commonwealth's budget does not factor in the lasting impact and damage to the environment and our health caused by mountaintop removal coal mining and of the degradation of air and water quality caused by burning coal to generate electricity.

During this session of the General Assembly lawmakers should eliminate tax and other budgetary provisions that make a shrinking coal industry a drain on state finances and concurrently legislators must move Virginia ahead in renewable wind and solar energy. My hopes are not high - typically in Richmond more effort is spent looking backwards rather than forwards - a view promoted by lobbyists of King Coal and Dominion Resources.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.