Cut the tax credits to the Oklahoma coal-mining industry and you cut money from small communities in the state. It’s the message from not only coal industry officials but from Mary Ann Pritchard, director of the Oklahoma Mining Department.
“People don’t realize the coal industry affects small communities,” she said recently in an interview with OK Energy Today. “Those are very good paying jobs and it keeps small towns alive.”
Pritchard wasn’t happy about the action of the legislature and Gov. Mary Fallin to cut the coal industry’s tax credit by 25 percent, a move that will eliminate about $800,000 from the credit that totals less than $4 million a year.
“I was sure sorry to even see it on the table,” said the State Department executive. “This coal industry is struggling to stay alive.”
She pointed out the state now produces less than 1 million tons of coal a year.
“It (production) keeps slipping. We’re down to about 750,000 tons a year. Hopefully, they can keep working,” added Pritchard.
The state has only about three major operators with Farrell-Cooper Mining located in Ft. Smith, Arkansas being the largest to mine in Oklahoma. Bob Cooper, Vice President of the company echoes what Pritchard says about small towns and the impact the tax credit cut and possible loss of any mining operator will have on those communities.
“They’re not realizing the long term effects of this. Total elimination would have taken half, we would have lost 500,000 tons immediately and put 200 miners on the welfare roll by the end of 2016. That doesn’t help the state!”
Listen to part of his interview with OK Energy Today’s Jerry Bohnen.