You would think that the coal industry’s long-held dominance of the American energy market would have eliminated the need for subsidies. After all, the industry spent $47 million last year on PR alone. But the fact is, coal companies are milking the government for all it’s worth while continuing to pump greenhouse gases and carcinogens into the air and turn the Appalachian Mountains into post-apocalyptic hellholes.
Coal subsidies have survived this long because of the industry’s staggering influence on lawmakers, and because constituents in coal states often fear the economic repercussions of a scaled-back coal industry more than they fear the harm to their health and homes. And on top of the federal coal subsidies lumped in under “˜fossil fuels’, the industry gets untold breaks on a state and local level in places like Kentucky, where the coal industry netted $115 million in subsidies in 2006.