Many industries are having a hard time right now, and many are seeking help from the federal government.
The coal industry is no exception.
When the economy started crumbling because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, leaders in the coal industry responded by asking Congress to reduce their liability. Specifically, they’d like to see the Black Lung Excise Tax cut in half, reducing the amount of money flowing into a fund that’s already $4 billion in debt.
Harry Childress at the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance says his industry needs the help. “We’re going through tough times. Companies are going bankrupt,” Childress says. “This contributes to people probably going into bankruptcy, to people making less profit and being able to stay in business, to try to capitalize equipment to try to hire new people to work more hours.”
Michael Maragos at Taxpayers for Common Sense says the industry is trying to take advantage of the economic crisis. “We think their attempt right now is just appalling. It’s completely unjustified to take advantage of this crisis to try and push forward things that have been on the industry’s lobbying agenda for years.”
The $2 trillion relief package approved by Congress did not include a reduction in the industry’s responsibility to pay into the black lung trust fund. But leaders in the coal industry say they’ll continue to press members of Congress to cut that excise tax in half.