Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

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Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

#1

Post by CaptQuint » Mon Mar 23, 2020 6:09 pm

The National Mining Association (NMA) on Wednesday called on President Donald Trump and federal lawmakers to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by cutting a tax used to support coal miners affected by black lung disease, to cut funding to clean up high-priority abandoned coal mine sites, and taking other steps that would financially benefit the coal mining industry.

“To minimize the impact of this crisis on the coal industry, Congress should ensure all businesses have the financial resources necessary to ride out the pandemic,” the March 18 letter says.

One way to achieve that goal, the NMA suggested, would be to make a $220 million cut to the per-ton tax on coal used to fund the federal Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.

“Congress should immediately reduce — not eliminate — the [Black Lung Excise Tax] to its 2019 levels,” the NMA wrote.

The letter cites not only the impacts of COVID-19, but also the coal mining industry’s financial struggles predating the pandemic.

It begins by highlighting the fact that coal miners have continued to work during the pandemic, amid business shutdowns that have spread across the United States in a patchwork manner. That same day, COVID-19 cases were confirmed in all 50 U.S. states.

“As the country faces this unique and mounting challenge around the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. coal miners continue to work to provide the resources necessary to power America,” NMA wrote, “while bracing for the severe financial distress facing all sectors across the nation.”

The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund was first established in 1978. It pays benefits to coal miners affected by black lung disease when the company responsible for their illness isn’t able to pay.

The trust fund is primarily funded by an excise tax on coal, which was originally set at between $0.25 and $0.50 per ton. In 1986, it was raised to between $0.55 and $1.10 per ton — but those rates dropped back down in 2019 because those terms expired.

It has long been underfunded. “The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund and associated excise tax on coal were established so that the coal industry, as opposed to taxpayers in general, would bear the burden associated with providing black lung benefits,” the United States Congressional Research Service said in a January 18, 2019 report on the program. “Throughout its history, the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund has not raised revenues sufficient to meet obligations.”

Coal miners with black lung are thought to be one of the groups at significant risk from COVID-19, which affects the respiratory system.



“Miners also face greater health risks,” Bloomberg reported on March 12. “As many as 20 percent of long-time miners may have black lung in central Appalachia, a historic bastion of U.S. coal production that includes parts of West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. That would be an underlying health condition that could exacerbate the symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus that was officially labeled a pandemic on Wednesday.”


The NMA letter, which was obtained by E&E News, also calls on federal lawmakers to cut funding for abandoned mine cleanups by 50 percent. And it asks Congress to suspend or reduce federal royalty payments for coal leases.

The Abandoned Mines Lands Fund focuses on reclaiming coal mining sites that would have otherwise fallen through the cracks of federal and state law. It funds efforts by state regulators to repair dangerous old coal mining sites, including those that could cause sinkholes and other hazards.

Phil Smith, director of communications and government affairs for the United Mine Workers of America, told DeSmog that the union opposes cuts to both the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund and the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund.

“While those who currently receive Black Lung benefits through the trust fund would not be in danger of seeing those benefits cut, it sends a very bad message to them and their families,” Smith said in an email. “How long is temporary? Once these contributions are cut, the industry will argue that they should never be restored.”

The NMA letter prompted a written response from two members of Congress.

“It is disappointing that the coal industry is advocating for policies that would not help the tens of thousands of sick, retired, and out-of-work miners that need immediate help and the communities that are still recovering from the legacy of environmental damage caused by the coal industry,” a letter released today by Rep. Raul M. Grijalva and Rep. Matt Cartwright says.

“At a time when the country is facing a pandemic due to a respiratory illness,” they wrote, “it is particularly egregious for the coal industry to advocate reducing the Black Lung Excise Tax, which is essential for providing medical services for approximately 25,000 sick miners.”




Asked for comment, the NMA emphasized that there was “no risk” from the policy they requested to the beneficiaries of the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund from a funding perspective. “Even in the midst of this crisis, the industry is working to ensure uninterrupted operations so that the fuel that provides a quarter of the U.S.’s electricity generation remains available,” a spokesperson added in an email to DeSmog.

The energy market has in recent years undergone enormous changes, and coal has gone from generating roughly half of American electricity in 2005 to producing just six percent more of the nation’s power than renewable energy in 2019.

Last year, the U.S. used 966 billion kilowatt hours of coal-generated electricity, according to a February 27 Energy Information Administration report, representing a little less than a quarter of total US electrical generation. Natural gas represented 38.4 percent of the total, while nuclear power made up 19.7 percent and renewables 17.5 percent.

https://www.desmogblog.com/2020/03/20/c ... g-covid-19
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Re: Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

#2

Post by Antknot » Mon Mar 23, 2020 6:23 pm

I grew up in coal country. Black lung is no joke. These assholes need to work a coal face for a week and then see if they waqnt to cut tha black lung payments.

Black lung plus Covid would be a death sentence.
Blame Hollywood. That's what I do, and it's no less useful than blaming someone with an actual conscience.

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Re: Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

#3

Post by CaptQuint » Mon Mar 23, 2020 6:49 pm

Golf groups ask Gov. Wolf to reopen Pennsylvania’s courses that were shut down due to pandemic

A broad coalition of golfing organizations from across Pennsylvania has petitioned Gov. Wolf to allow their courses, shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, to reopen.

In a letter dated Friday, 10 groups that represent the state’s nearly 700 courses, its golf professionals, managers, and superintendents, asked Wolf to reconsider his order closing all businesses that aren’t life-sustaining.

Until that action last Thursday, many private and public clubs in the Philadelphia area remained open to golfers during the coronavirus outbreak, though almost all had shuttered or significantly altered their pro shop, restaurant, snack bar, and instructional operations.

“We believe the field of play, which typically represents over 200 acres of open space land, should be treated differently,” the letter said. “… Socially distant recreation on a golf course is much like taking a walk through one of our wonderful state parks. Course owners all over the country have been taking extra precautions to ensure playing golf is a safe experience that complies with all health advisories and recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control.”



In Michigan, where Gov. Esther Whitmer has instituted restrictions similar to those imposed by Wolf, golf courses have been permitted to stay open.

“We ask that you similarly do not include the fields of play … in any such mandates,” the letter said.

The groups behind the request included the Philadelphia Section of the PGA, which represents professionals at nearly 300 local clubs, and the Golf Association of Philadelphia.


The other signers were the Philadelphia and Vicinity Club Managers Association; the Philadelphia Association of Golf Course Superintendents; the Pennsylvania Golf Association; the Tri-State Section of the PGA; the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association; The Club Managers of America, Pittsburgh Chapter; the Greater Pittsburgh Golf Course Superintendents; and the Pennsylvania Golf Course Owners.

https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronav ... 00322.html

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Re: Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

#4

Post by CaptQuint » Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:41 pm

The private-jet industry is asking Congress for bailout money, even as many private jet companies say sales are strong as wealthy flyers avoid commercial flights.

The National Business Aviation Association, or NBAA, which represents private-jet companies and corporate jets, sent a joint letter with other industry groups to congressional leaders saying the industry is facing "increasing financial uncertainty" and that private-jet companies should be included in any airline or aviation bailout.

"Due to the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is currently no certainty as to when economic conditions will improve, which threatens the survival and prospects of thousands of general aviation businesses," the letter stated.

A bailout for the private jet industry would likely add to a political and populist backlash emerging against government funding for companies in the wake of the coronavirus losses. While a bailout for commercial airlines is being sold as a benefit to the broader flying public, government support for private-jet companies — which mainly serve the wealthy and big corporations — could generate criticism at a time when millions of Americans are losing their jobs and struggling.


"It's hard to imagine anything worse," said Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic Policy, who has studied and written extensively on government bailouts. "Putting up public money to support an industry that serves the rich would be hard to justify. It's absurd."

The NBAA says in its letter that private jets and general aviation (basically all air travel outside of the commercial airlines and the military) supports 1.2 million jobs, $247 billion in "economic impact," and $77 billion in income. Even though companies such as NetJets, Vista Jet and WheelsUp cater to the wealthy, the industry says private carriers and general aviation supports thousands of small communities and helps provide medical services.

It's unclear how much money the private jet industry is seeking. In the letter, addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other leaders, the groups ask for "medium to long-term liquidity assistance and relief from air transportation excise taxes."

The request for funds comes after many private jet companies publicly touted strong gains due to the coronavirus. Wealthy flyers, they announced, were flocking to private jets to avoid the crowds and health risks of commercial flights.

Magellan Jets, a private jet charter company, said trip volume was up 70% in the first two weeks of March compared with the same period a year ago, while inquiries have more than quadrupled.
VistaJet said flights are up 16% since the beginning of the year.
Wheels Up declined to give passenger or flight numbers but said that it is "prepared and have availability to service the uptick in demand we are seeing from individual and corporate members."
PrivateFly touted the attraction of flying private during a health crisis and said revenues would be up. "As we have seen before in times of disruption, people turn to private jet charter to fill the gap," the company said in a release.
Granted, top executives say the impact of the coronavirus varies widely across the industry. Private jet companies that cater to corporate executives flying overseas may be suffering more, since many companies have suspended all nonessential travel. But companies that serve U.S. leisure travelers — who are opting to fly private to their second homes and getaways — may be faring better.

"It's a mixed bag," said one industry executive, who asked not to be named. "So yes, a few guys are doing well. But most of the rest will suffer from this."


https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2020/03/20/pri ... nding.html
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Re: Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

#5

Post by CHEEZY17 » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:36 am

Who is Esther Whitmer?
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Re: Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

#6

Post by CaptQuint » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:43 am

CHEEZY17 wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:36 am
Who is Esther Whitmer?
That chick with the big jahoobies
"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

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Re: Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

#7

Post by CHEEZY17 » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:54 am

CaptQuint wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:43 am
CHEEZY17 wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:36 am
Who is Esther Whitmer?
That chick with the big jahoobies
Shes incredbly MILFtastic:

Image
“The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

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Re: Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

#8

Post by B-Tender » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:27 am

CHEEZY17 wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:54 am
CaptQuint wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:43 am
CHEEZY17 wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:36 am
Who is Esther Whitmer?
That chick with the big jahoobies
Shes incredbly MILFtastic:

Image
I'm guessing major FUPA.

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Re: Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

#9

Post by CHEEZY17 » Tue Mar 24, 2020 11:00 am

B-Tender wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:27 am
CHEEZY17 wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:54 am
CaptQuint wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:43 am
CHEEZY17 wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:36 am
Who is Esther Whitmer?
That chick with the big jahoobies
Shes incredbly MILFtastic:

Image
I'm guessing major FUPA.
Yeah, shes got a few extra pounds no doubt. Although I think this whole virus thing is stressing her out because every time I see her making announcements now she looks thinner each time. I'm sure her days, for all governors, right now are pretty stressful.
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Re: Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

#10

Post by CaptQuint » Tue Mar 24, 2020 11:50 am

The association that represents U.S. aviation repair stations has asked the Trump administration and Congress for $11 billion to help offset an anticipated slowdown in aftermarket work as airlines ground aircraft and wait out the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

In a Mar. 17 letter to the White House and senior lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) proposed “at least” $8 billion in grants and $3 billion in loans or loan guarantees for FAA-certificated maintenance providers.

The total amount would permit the 4,000-plus FAA shops to pay their employees for nine months, which is when ARSA assumes the disruptions will end. ARSA’s calculations account for an average hourly wage of $38 for the 194,000 technicians that staff repair stations.

“Maintaining the repair station workforce will... prevent large industry job losses that would put additional pressure on existing government benefit programs (e.g., unemployment insurance),” ARSA EVP Christian Klein wrote. “Finally, our industry has long been suffering from a severe and well-documented technician shortage and maintaining a highly trained workforce is critical to ensuring the long-term stability of the entire U.S. aviation sector.”

ARSA has also asked for aircraft operators to receive a tax credit equal to 50% of all work contracted to and performed by U.S. shops between Apr. 1 and Dec. 31. The incentive would motivate airlines and other operators to keep using contracted facilities during the downturn.

“Like their business aviation and airline customers, ARSA’s members are concerned about the travel disruption’s impact,” Klein wrote. “While the full effects on employees and businesses will not be known for some time, we are already hearing that aviation maintenance work is being canceled and customers may be unable to pay bills.”

ARSA’s request comes as other industry sectors are pleading for similar help. The U.S. airlines are asking for nearly $60 billion in financial relief, while U.S. airports have made a pitch for $10 billion. Globally, airlines could need $200 billion, IATA’s latest projections show.

While the business ramifications of COVID-19 are unclear, the MRO sector is expected to join airlines and airports as among the most-affected businesses. Analysts are projecting at least a 20% year-over-year decline in MRO business in 2020. Airlines will need less support since fleets are grounded and are not likely to use the downtime for shop visits or other scheduled work because of their need to conserve cash.


https://aviationweek.com/mro/arsa-pushe ... ef-package
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Re: Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

#11

Post by Charliesheen » Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:11 pm

What about the yacht business? And liquor importers? How about big tobbacco?

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Re: Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

#12

Post by CaptQuint » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:41 pm

Boeing CEO Touts 'Plenty' Of Alternatives To Massive Taxpayer Bailout

https://www.investors.com/news/boeing-s ... r-bailout/
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Re: Coal Industry Group Asks Federal Lawmakers to Cut Funding for Black Lung Program, Citing COVID-19

#13

Post by B-Tender » Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:36 pm

CaptQuint wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:41 pm
Boeing CEO Touts 'Plenty' Of Alternatives To Massive Taxpayer Bailout

https://www.investors.com/news/boeing-s ... r-bailout/
Boeing can pound sand.

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