May 3, 2017 - West Virginia Independent Delegate Rupie Phillips recently said he opposes the tiered severance tax plan Governor Jim Justice is trying to push through the Legislature this week, saying it treats coal companies unfairly and will cost coal jobs.
“With our coal companies and miners just now getting back on their feet, I can’t image why someone would push through a plan that threatens to pull the rug out from underneath them,” said Delegate Phillips, who represents portions of Logan, Boone and Wyoming counties in the House of Delegates.
The Governor has been pushing a tiered severance tax system for coal and natural gas. Under the tax plan, companies will pay a higher tax when prices are high and a lower one when prices drop. It has different rates for steam, metallurgical and thin-seam classes of coal.
While the plan stands to greatly benefit steam coal mines, it would double the current tax rate for metallurgical mines, which are experiencing a temporary rise in prices due to a cyclone in Australia that affected international coal markets.
“The War on Coal has devastated our region and hurt nearly everyone I know,” said Delegate Phillips, I-Logan. “That’s why I cannot support a plan that will hurt some of our coal miners and operators.
“While this plan might work for steam coal mines, our met coal operators will be unfairly punished by it,” Delegate Phillips said. “These companies are just now starting to recover some of the money they lost during the Obama administration and have just begun putting our miners back to work. We shouldn’t do anything right now that keeps them from providing jobs and opportunities for our people.”
Companies also say the new tax rates for thin-seam coal mines will make these investments uncompetitive, forcing them to drop plans to reopen some mines.
“I can’t believe anyone would be pushing a plan that coal companies say would keep them from reopening mines,” Delegate Phillips said. “Our coal industry has been punished for far too long. We need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help these mines reopen and put our miners back to work. This scheme would stand in the way of that, and I plan to fight it. We need tax plans that are fair to all and encourage growth and job creation, and this plan is not it.”