Amid pandemic, US coal industry seeks lower taxes, royalties - Casper, WY Oil City News
Oil City News Logo

Amid pandemic, US coal industry seeks lower taxes, royalties

Shutterstock

By MATTHEW BROWN Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The lobbying arm of the U.S. coal industry is asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in royalty relief, tax cuts and other breaks to help companies ride out the financial crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

National Mining Association President Rich Nolan made the request in a letter sent this week to the White House and the leaders of the House and Senate.

Article continues below...

The benefits that Nolan asked Congress to provide could total more than $800 million a year for coal companies, based on last year’s payments by the industry to the federal government.

The request includes a $220 million cut to a tax aimed at covering beneficiary payments for black lung disease in miners, a 50% cut in mine reclamation fees that would be worth $75 million, and suspending or eliminating royalty payments that totaled $527 million last year, according to the association.

Even before the current economic upheaval, the coal mining industry was in sharp decline as utilities across the nation switch to cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable energy sources.

With financial institutions under pressure from environmentalists to divest from coal, Nolan also said more access to credit was needed to help companies keep mines open. He described it as a matter of national security and said that without easier access to credit, operations at hundreds of mines employing tens of thousands of miners could be threatened.

“The coal industry is absolutely critical to securing a domestic, secure supply of affordable energy,” he said. “As global supply chains are disrupted…American-mined coal is here when it is needed.”

The request was blasted by conservationists who said it amounted to a corporate giveaway and would sharply reduce revenue for coal mining states that get a share of all royalty payments.

“CEOs are seeking to manipulate a global public health crisis for private gain. We should use funds to help workers and communities, not give sweetheart deals to massive coal companies,” said Ellen Pfister, a Montana rancher and member of the Northern Plains Resource Council who lives next to a large coal mine north of Billings.

The volume of coal mined in the U.S. has been dropping for the past decade, although burning the fuel still accounts for almost one-quarter of all U.S. electricity generation.

Coal production in 2020 totals just over 124 million tons to date, down by almost 18 percent compared to the same point in 2019, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The decline has hit all major coal states, including Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Montana and Illinois. About half of coal royalty revenues collected by the federal government is returned to the states where the fuel was mined.

White House spokesman Judd Deere declined to comment on the specific breaks requested by the coal industry but said the Trump administration was going to look out for private companies.

“We are going to ensure that we take care of all Americans, including affected industries and small businesses, and that we emerge from this challenge stronger and with a prosperous and growing economy,” Deere said in an emailed statement.

Representatives of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: covid@cnchd.org


  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.


The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:


What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: covid@cnchd.org


  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.