FitzGerald suggests diverting some coal severance money into job training trust fund

05/22/2013 09:22 PM

With the Eastern Kentucky coal industry losing steam, the region needs more investment in job retraining funded by the coal industry itself, suggested environmental lawyer Tom FitzGerald.

FitzGerald, speaking at a Louisville forum Tuesday on coal regulation, said he wants to see a portion of coal severance tax money go toward a trust fund for job education.

Coal severance taxes are paid by mining companies to counties for the effects of extracting the coal and transporting it on county roads.

Here’s what FitzGerald, head of the Kentucky Resources Council, said:

Jim Waters, president of the free-market think tank the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, was arguing on the other side of the coal regulation issue from FitzGerald. But, at one point, he said he agreed with FitzGerald’s proposal.

Both said they were concerned that changes in the Eastern Kentucky coal industry will have long-lasting economic effects on Eastern Kentucky, which already struggles with high unemployment, lower rates of college graduates and high drug use.

A report from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet showed that coal production in Eastern Kentucky was down 1.5 percent in the first three months of the year and coal industry jobs dropped to an all-time low of 13,000 in Kentucky, as WKYT reported on Wednesday.

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