Yet Another Example of Taxpayer-Funded Corporate Welfare to Dirty Energy: The “Coalfields Expressway”

Posted By Lowell F. on August 21st, 2012

Here on Scaling Green, we often point out particularly egregious forms of taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to dirty energy.  For instance, a couple months ago we noted how enormous implicit and explicit taxpayer-funded corporate welfare are being lavished on the oil, coal, and natural gas industries not just at the federal government level, but also in states like Pennsylvania, where Gov. Tom Corbett “is advocating future tax credits worth as much as $66 million a year for a petrochemical refinery planned by Shell Oil Co. in western Pennsylvania to capitalize on booming natural-gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region.” As we pointed out at the time, it seems somewhat questionable that a company earning profits of $7.3 billion in the first quarter of 2012 alone should be receiving $1.7 billion in tax credits over 25 years, just from one state.

Well now, courtesy of Credo Action, we have yet another state-level example of taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to dirty energy run amok.

Virginia’s dirty coal industry is pushing a nefarious plan to use more than $2 billion of taxpayer money to finance the “Coalfields Expressway,” a proposed 51-mile highway project in Southwest Virginia’s coal fields that would pave the way for expanded coal mining, bury 12 miles of streams and undercut environmental safeguards that keep Virginians safe.1

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Since the proposed highway’s primary purpose is transporting coal — and the highway would actually be built on coal mine sites — the proposal includes provisions that are specifically designed to expedite coal mining and make it more profitable.

The plan currently being considered by VDOT would weaken environmental rules for coal mines near the proposed highway, allowing coal companies to bypass safeguards that protect Virginians and the environment from destructive coal mining projects.

The question is, what’s the justification for allowing coal companies to get away with endangering people’s health and well being, let alone spending $2 billion in taxpayer money to prop up an industry which accounts for just2 percent of employment in the central Appalachian region,” and which research has found “is a loser economically, environmentally, and in terms of public health?” To date, we haven’t heard any plausible answers.

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