Thursday, March 10, 2016

Murray: West Virginia ruling out coal break 'unconscionable'

(AP) — Murray Energy says West Virginia lawmakers have "abandoned our coal miners" by killing a bigger break for struggling coal companies.

Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent's comments came after a House panel opted Wednesday only to study severance tax cuts.

Lawmakers had considered a tax break from 5 to 4 percent in July 2017, and 3 percent in July 2018. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's administration estimated more than a $100 million cost annually. The state faces a $466 million budget gap in 2017 largely caused by falling coal and natural gas tax revenues.

Broadbent called the bill's demise "unconscionable" when the state has $784 million in reserves.

Tomblin already signed a bill dropping a 56-cent-per-ton coal surtax, worth $51.5 million in the 2017 budget. It has helped pay a workers' compensation debt for years.