Commentary: Coal industry is always angling for breaks

How many ways can taxpayers support the coal industry?

If it were up to some Kentucky politicians, the giveaways would be endless.

Just this month we've heard from lawmakers in Frankfort who want to turn the public highways into parking lots for coal trucks and lawmakers in Washington who don't want to save taxpayers $2.3 billion over the next decade by ending subsidies to the coal industry.

Federal subsidies equal about 1 percent of annual domestic coal revenues, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. But Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, said ending them would "severely" limit the coal industry's "ability to create jobs and keep production lines open."

Rogers accused the Obama administration of taking "dead aim at coal" even though the president's budget also ends oil and gas subsidies worth $36 billion over 10 years.

Meanwhile, in Frankfort, 12 lawmakers are sponsoring a bill that chief sponsor Ancel Smith, D-Leburn, says is necessary "to mine coal and build roads."

House Bill 409 would allow coal trucks and other "overweight and overdimensional" vehicles to block a public roadway for an hour to unload cargo. The road could be blocked for an additional four hours by paying $500 to $1,000 for a permit.

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