Sunday, 14 August 2022 16:26

‘Shocked and disheartened’: How coal country is reacting to Manchin’s climate deal

Written by The Hill
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Coal country is still reeling from Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) decision to back a sweeping climate and energy package that will accelerate the nation's transition away from coal.  

In the Mountain State, the once-burgeoning coal industry says it feels betrayed, displaced coal workers are celebrating the bill’s black lung benefits and Republicans seeking Manchin’s seat in 2024 are licking their chops.   

The Inflation Reduction Act includes several Appalachia-centric measures, including subsidies to build renewable energy projects on former coal fields and the permanent extension of a tax on coal companies that funds benefits for miners suffering from black lung disease.  

Advocates who fought hard for the black lung fund extension — they warned Manchin that the benefits were at risk when the excise tax expired last year — hailed its inclusion as a breakthrough victory for workers who don’t typically wield influence in Washington.  

“We were surprised. We thought it’d be a four-year or 10-year [extension],” said Gary Hairston, a former West Virginia coal miner of 27 years who now leads the National Black Lung Association. “So, when we got it permanently, we might not need to worry...

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