W.Va. mine cleanup tax hike passed by Legislature
CHARLESTON, W.Va.—West Virginia coal operators will likely soon start paying more toward the cleanup of abandoned mines.
The House of Delegates passed a proposed hike of a special reclamation tax by 85-14 on Thursday. The Senate sent the bill to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin after approving a minor House amendment Friday.
The measure would raise the tax on processed coal from 14 cents to nearly 28 cents per ton. It would dedicate 15 cents of that rate toward treating water on these abandoned sites.
Officials estimate the hike would increase the tax's annual revenues from $19 million to $36 million. The water reclamation trust fund would get $20 million of that per year.
Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman requested the tax increase. Nine Republican and five Democratic delegates opposed the bill.