W.Va. schools rely on coal

Stephen L. Paine, West Virginia’s superintendent of schools has an interesting column on the WBOY TV website. Reading through his comments gives each of us a good reminder of how many of our basic institutions rely on the clean, affordable, and abundant energy that coal provides.

But coal provides more than just energy. Our social sustainability also relies on the many thousands of jobs provided by mining, transportation, utilities, support services, as well as other indirect jobs. Coal also provides millions in royalties, severance taxes, business and income taxes, etc. As Paine notes, “coal was responsible for about 10 percent of (WVa) school budgets in 2009.”

While many push for the demise of the coal industry, the reality is that coal provides a solid base for many of the institutions and essential services that we expect for our children and families — our well-being.

Here’s a portion of Paine’s thoughts. You can read the remainder of his column on the WBOY TV website.

Not only does coal provide low-cost energy, it also plays an important role in our economy and in our schools. Coal was responsible for about 10 percent of school budgets in 2009, contributing about $255 million, according to Mark Muchow, deputy secretary for the West Virginia Department of Revenue.

That figure includes several taxes, including severance taxes, personal and business income taxes, royalty and sales taxes and corporate and business franchise taxes. It does not include the impact from coal-related business, such as the electrical power industry, which would increase coal’s contribution to schools even more.

As state superintendent of schools, I am concerned about what the potential loss of such a large sum of money will mean to our children. There are those in this current climate who want nothing more than to shut down all mining activity. But as West Virginia’s senior statesman in Washington, U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, accurately noted “America cannot meet its current energy needs without coal.”

Sen. Byrd and other West Virginians know that until we are ready to turn off the computer, unplug the television or shut down our manufacturing plants, responsible use of coal will remain one of our best energy options and play a large role in West Virginia’s economy.

12. February 2010 by Jason Hayes
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