Each stage in the life cycle of coal—extraction, transport, processing, and combustion—generates a waste stream and carries multiple hazards for health and the environment. These costs are external to the coal industry and are thus often considered “externalities.”We estimate that the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually.Many of these so-called externalities are, moreover, cumulative.
In this report, we examine the net impact of the coal industry on the West Virginia state budget by compiling data on and estimating both the tax revenues and the expenditures attributable to the industry for Fiscal Year 2009: July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009. In calculating these estimates, there is an inherent degree of uncertainty associated with the results. We do not claim that our accounting of revenues and expenditures is precise; in fact, we round our estimates so as not to provide a false impression of precision.
Although coal has played an important historical role, the Tennessee coal industry now provides few jobs to state residents, and does not provide significant revenues to the state budget. In fact, as estimated in this report, the industry itself—together with its direct and indirect employees—actually cost Tennessee state taxpayers more than they provide. Our estimates provide an initial accounting of not only the industry’s benefits, but also its costs.