House approves lowering steam coal tax

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia House of Delegates voted Wednesday to lower the severance tax on steam coal over the next two years.

House Bill 3142 would reduce the severance tax on steam coal from 5 percent to 3 percent. The total estimated cost is $30 million per year, totaling $60 million. State revenue officials said the measure could save 500 jobs.

With a gallery full of blue-shirted miners, Delegate Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha, argued against the bill, saying it only helps northern West Virginia, not struggling southern counties. which has metallurgical coal.

“It has nothing for the part of West Virginia that needs the help,” he argued.

Delegate Tony Paynter, R-Wyoming, spoke in favor of the bill.

“Southern West Virginia has a lot of steam coal,” he said. “I am a resounding yes on this.”

The line earned a round of applause from the gallery, which Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, had to silence because of Hosue rules.

“We stand here in this great big marble building in our cheap suits, in these cushioned seats, and these men and women sat up there on these hard benches and we have the audacity to say this is going to put the money in some corporate fat cat’s pockets,” Delegate Daniel Linville, R-Cabell, said. He backed the bill.

Delegate John Kelly, R-Wood, said the current severance tax rate makes West Virginia coal too expensive to compete against coal from other states.

Yet Delegate Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia, questioned whether the 2-percent cut would really improve the market; coal plants are struggling to compete against other forms of energy because natural gas has a lower cost and renewable energy is becoming cheaper.

After the long debate, the House voted 88-11 in favor of the measure.

More News

Storm headed into West Virginia packs a punch
Forecasters and emergency officials are particularly concerned about north central West Virginia and counties along the Ohio River headed into the weekend.
March 24, 2023 - 1:56 pm
Some Monongalia County schools dismiss early Friday due to storm
MECCA 911 director Jim Smith reports very few flood-related issues.
March 24, 2023 - 1:50 pm
Local Girl Scout Cookie sales kick off for the season
Volunteers gather in the rain to distribute thousands of girl scout cookies.
March 24, 2023 - 11:20 am
$1 million Powerball ticket sold in Nicholas County
The winning ticket for Wednesday's drawing was sold at a store in Craigsville.
March 24, 2023 - 11:14 am