Environmentalists have long criticized Virginia coal companies for their impact on air quality, but a new report suggests there are economic reasons to stop mining.
In the report, Appalachian Voices, a nonprofit environmental organization, found Virginia gives coal companies more in tax breaks than the state receives from them in taxes.
Virginia pays a net amount of about $22 million to the coal industry every year, according to Appalachian Voices Director Tom Cormons. The figure takes into account all taxes the industry pays to the state, he said.
"Virginia's lawmakers have made a conscious decision to subsidize this particular industry with tens of millions of dollars in the form of two tax breaks paid for by ordinary Virginia taxpayers," Cormons said.
The Virginia Coalfields Economic Development Authority, a state agency dedicated to creating new jobs in mining communities, has directly created 18,600 jobs since its founding in 1988, Cormons said.
"That's compared to just over 5,000 jobs total in the coal industry," Cormons added.
Cormons suggested the state end tax breaks for coal companies and use the money to promote additional economic development in Virginia.
In a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Nominee Anthony Foxx advocated for more infrastructure projects to spur economic growth.