The time has come for a coal severance tax in Illinois

A recent study points out how the state of Illinois is spending more to promote the coal industry than the corporations are paying in taxes to the state. It points up the real need for a coal severance tax on these companies that are selling Illinois coal out of state for huge profits.

Also, citizens are in effect subsidizing these corporations, as much of the damage left behind by these operations is repaired with our tax money also.

“Downstream Strategies” came out in June 2013 on “The Impact of Coal on the Illinois State Budget, FY2011.” Rory McIlmoil (MA, project manager), Meghan Betcher (MS, environmental science) and Amanda Kass (MS, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, Chicago) did the study.

Our legislators need to review the true needs and priorities of Illinois, especially with our current budget problems. We cannot afford to supplement industries with grants when they are not providing the numbers of jobs originally promised, while being allowed to ship coal out of state and even out of the country without paying their fair share of taxes to the state of Illinois. Other states charge severance taxes. Why doesn’t Illinois?

Then there are the problems of permanent damage to farms and roads, as well as air pollution and water contamination. A severance tax could provide funds for repairing the damage left behind. These corporations also could be required in their original operating permits to set up funds for this purpose.

The above referenced study showed that out of 17 companies operating coal mines in Illinois in 2010, only three were required to pay corporate income tax. The remaining 14 companies, classified as LLCs, do not pay tax. Only 34 percent of Illinois coal produced in 2010 was produced by companies with corporate income tax liability. The study showed that taxes on coal came to $1,400,860. Meanwhile, the state’s total expenses in promoting the industry also came to $1,400,860.

The authors recommended the following actions: one, a state severance tax on coal; two, a permanent trust fund to help remediate environmental damages due to mining; and three, a detailed analysis of the full costs and benefits of grant programs supporting coal-related projects, with a plan for more oversight.

Charles Goodall: A Man Who Stood Up to Coal (1944-2013)

20121207-221705-pic-350666101Illinois lost a loyal farmer, who spoke out against the loss of water, and pollution of farms caused by coal mines.  Charles Goodall, of Sidell, Vermilion County, a founder of Stand Up to Coal, passed away July 4 at age 68 in Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago of complications from multiple myeloma.  He is well known in environmental circles, as well as agricultural organizations.

Memorial services will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 28, 2013 at the Sidell Methodist Church, 202 Chicago St., Sidell, Illinois.

A fifth generation farmer, he grew up on the family farm outside Sidell with sisters, Carol, Marjory and twin, Catherine.  He was a graduate of the University of Illinois with a degree in agricultural economics.  He spent two years in Venezuela as a Peace Corps volunteer, and graduated from Washington University School of Law, St. Louis.  He greatly valued community, historical preservation, the natural world and conservation and spent time and effort on these causes.

Charles is survived by his wife, Nancy, daughters Catherine (Uwe) Goodall-Heising and Andrea (Milyon) Trulove, and granddaughter Norah, three sisters, Carol Wock, Marjory (Paul) Queen, and Catherine (Albert) Allen, and many relatives and friends.

He invited members of CALM to come to Vermilion County to serve on panels for Stand Up to Coal programs.  He also came to Montgomery and Macoupin Counties on a sponsored tour of mines in Carlinville and Hillsboro.  He will long be remembered as a leader with a strong sense of justice, who fought for the fair treatment of rural citizens in our democracy.

(Catherine Edmiston, President, Citizens Against Longwall Mining)

In Remembrance of Charles Goodall (1944-2013)

20130408-205955-pic-370176059To describe the entirety of a man’s life cannot be done with mere words, but Charles Goodall’s  life long focus in protecting our natural world, farmland, and communities from destruction is exemplary of his character.  Charles founded Stand Up to Coal to fight a proposed coal mine in Champaign and Vermilion Counties by Sunrise Coal LLC.  As a fifth-generation farmer, he valued the land and water resources and dedicated his efforts to preserve them.  As an avid outdoorsman, he appreciated clean air and the beauty of nature as essential elements in preserving the community’s quality of life.

Charles was influential in alerting his community about the reality of coal mining and why his fellow citizens should not believe the sales pitch of Sunrise Coal.  He realized the promise of jobs and profits to the community by the mine proponents was misleading while the detrimental effects to the environment were not discussed.  Perhaps the most misleading statements by mine proponents were that all state and federal mine laws would be applied and therefore these laws would protect the environment. Charles with other Stand Up to Coal members knew this contention was not realistic.

The leadership of Charles in the Stand Up to Coal organization along with his active board membership of Prairie Rivers Network and participation in Heartland Coalfield Alliance helped to bring about a collective change in attitudes and established an extensive group of mine opponents.  They did what they should have done to protect their community.  They united and stood up to coal and the myths that the coal industry promotes to get entrenched into their neighborhoods.

The coal industry’s influence permeated well beyond the placement of coal mining into communities.  Charles worked toward removal of the coal industry’s curriculum that was distributed by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to any teacher that requested the coal program.  He objected to the state promoting coal propaganda as valid information to Illinois youth.  He considered education to be about how to develop a clean energy future, not how to enhance fossil fuel profits.

He protected and fought for what was important to him and his family and inspired others to do likewise.  Charles led with his heart and mind to better his community, state and country.  His legacy is his actions.  We all have benefited.