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May 3, 2018

W.Va., Ky. governments refuse to tax natural gas at modern rate...

LOSERS AGAIN?

West Virginia is in last or near last in state measures of well-being, development and employment, partially because state politicians have failed to adequately tax booming industries: first coal, and now natural gas, the Charleston Gazette-Mail's Ken Ward Jr. reports for ProPublica's Local Reporting Network.

Along U.S. Route 19 in southern West Virginia, row after row of pipe is stockpiled in preparation for construction of the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline, one of several major natural gas pipelines that will crisscross the state as the industry booms.Along U.S. Route 19 in southern West Virginia, row after row of pipe is stockpiled in preparation for construction of the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline, one of several major natural gas pipelines that will crisscross the state as the industry booms.

"Today, West Virginia’s headlong race into the gas rush is taking the state down the same path that it’s been on for generations with coal," Ward reports. "Elected officials have sided with natural-gas companies on tax proposals and property-rights legislation. Industry lobbyists have convinced regulators to soften new rules aimed at protecting residents and their communities from drilling damage."

For example, Gov. Jim Justice proposed solving the recent teacher strike by increasing taxes on the state's booming gas industry. But industry lobbyists criticized the idea and it quickly lost steam. It's not the first time West Virginia politicians have passed on harnessing an industry for the state's good. In 1953 then-Gov. William Marland proposed a new tax on coal to upgrade schools and roads, but it failed after heavy criticism, Ward reports.

Failing to tax gas is doubly shortsighted if the industry causes as many health and environmental problems as coal has, Ward reports in another story. "Hopefully, the stories about this crossroads in our state will shine some light on how West Virginia can learn from our past," he writes.

Written by Heather Chapman 

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The Ky. General Assembly also failed to address the issue this year although new taxing regulations are badly needed in gas rich eastern Kentucky to help defray dwindling coal severance tax revenue for local governments which provide services.

 

Comments  

+5 #1 NoSurprise 2018-05-04 01:09
Career politicians protecting big $$$. Do what they want and how they want, all of them play the game. The career politicians need to go and term limits need to be put in place. Nothing else will work.
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