In a big win for a narrow majority in the Virginia House of Delegates, southwest Virginia can breathe a sigh of relief as coal tax credits make their way through the General Assembly and to the desk of the governor. From the Roanoke Times:
The bills introduced by Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott, and Sen. Ben Chafin, R-Russell, offer tax credits solely for metallurgical or “met” coal, which is experiencing a resurgence for steel-making in foreign countries.
Previous legislation called for credits for steam and metallurgical coal and came with a lofty price tag of $7.3 million for credits. The legislation that passed Wednesday would offer $200,000 in tax credits next year and about $500,000 the following year, depending on market conditions, Kilgore said.
The Republican-controlled legislature passed bills reinstating the coal tax credits in previous years, but former Gov. Terry McAuliffe consistently vetoed the bills, citing the “ineffectiveness” of the tax credits. McAuliffe pointed to a Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission report from 2012 that said coal production declined at the same rate or faster even with the state-issued credits designed to slow the demise of Virginia’s coal industry.
After his legislation was shot down several years in a row, Kilgore took a scaled-back approach by focusing solely on metallurgical coal.
Democrats are still trying by hook or crook to end Virginia’s coal industry. With carbon capture technology well advanced and the United States sitting on 400 years of coal power — literally the Saudi Arabia of coal — the task becomes a dual one: (1) finding a use for captured carbon that does not impact the environment, and (2) finding better uses for coal other than burning it.